What is your first visual experience in this world? What pictures do you remember?

Still inside mother Liivi’s belly, I had a nice water skiing ride on Värska lake (this was my first and only time). Mother immediately got the knack of it, kept her balance beautifully and so we were whisked along the lake. This probably gave me inspiration for depicting various fields of sport and halted dynamics in paintings.
I remember riding a tricycle in the kindergarten yard, lifting the first wheel in the air and then crashing down on my back on the asphalt. I remember the smells and colours of my grandparents’ summer house near the sea. I remember the paintings of my godfather Andres Tolts on the walls of my childhood home: one was a strange large-size composition with a brown well-worn briefcase, a greenish-white plastic bag and an empty picture frame in a corner of the room (Andres gave this picture to my father Vilen as a present) and another was a bunch of flowers with orange blooms (a wedding present to my parents). I also remember Ado Lill’s flowing painting (father bought it from the artist) from his short period of abstract expressionism.

What are your memories from your first years as an artist? Who were then your favourites and who are your favourites today? How has your style changed over the years?

My first personal exhibition was in 2001 at Vaal gallery. My works at that time had bright colours, but in recent years I have started using neon colours as well (the current book contains a selection of my work from the last four years). I remember how as a teenager in the early 1990s at the art school in Kevade Street I preferred indigo blue, mushroom shades and pitch black. My style back then, and still now, focuses on one strong and simple image, although the style in the early years was a bit rougher and more expressive. I was then fascinated with pop art: Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, R.B. Kitaj, a bit later Alex Katz. I have always liked the Soviet Russian artist Aleksandr Deineka (for example his admirable “Goalkeeper” in the Moscow Tretyakov gallery). My current favourites in painting include the American Mernet Larsen, who created a world of her own with cube-like people and weird rules of perspective; the Frenchman Jules de Balincourt for his excellent ability to generalise and a sense of the detail; the headstrong Czech artist Daniel Pitin who finds inspiration in film history and the Scotsman Peter Doig residing in Trinidad. I recently had the honour of participating in a group exhibition “By the Sea” (curator Harry Pye) featuring Peter Doig in Kent. I also keep an eye on the undertakings of the Leipzig artist couple Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy. And of course David Hockney whom I greatly admire as a painter and as a writer about art.

For a long time you edited the paper EPIFANIO. How did you benefit from that?

I edited and published Epifanio from 2005 to 2011. It appeared both on paper and online. All 15 issues are still accessible at: I tried to discover the essence of various cultural fields and creativity and link them with intellectual themes. Besides the content, the visual aspect of the paper was crucial (the paper version was designed by Angelika Schneider, the web version by Irina Tammis).
Working as an editor posed a welcome change in the somewhat asocial life of a painter, teaching me to work together with designers and authors here and from abroad, perceive exciting new worlds. We published a long interview about the essence of life with the late witch Ursula Liblikas, quite an unusual step for a culture publication. The Russian culture special published a story about Nikolay Polissky who produced powerful landmarks out of natural materials, such as sticks, hay, melons, firewood and such in Nikola Lenivets village in Russia. There was an interview with Nathaniel Kahn, who made a poetic film “My Architect” about his father, the world famous architect Louis Kahn who came from Saaremaa Island, Estonia. Harry Pye regularly sent postcards about art and music life in London. Almost every issue contained a short story or an article about creative people by Mehis Heinsaar and Nato Lumi’s timeless funny trivia.
I regarded Epifanio as a work of art. Editing a timeless paper expanded my world vision and enhanced my development as a painter.

The world is currently changing a great deal. How do you see these changes in art? What is the role of painting in art today? What is the artist’s task in today’s society?

Contemporary Chinese painter Liu Xiadong has said aptly: "Painters are like art history's "rings", like links connecting the chain. All painters in the very long history of art have impacted on my work. Regardless of whether I like it or hate it, they are all my natural resources. I cannot pick and choose any one of them. It is the (combined) impact of the "ring". The art of painting is the most direct, readable, but at the same time the slowest of the arts. In today’s hectic world, in an era of up- and downloading that takes seconds, a painter tries to calm down those who rush, his work does not need batteries, fast internet or electricity. You only need canvas, paints, brushes and a joy of the game. The latter, unfortunately, is getting increasingly scarce in today’s society and art. Today’s artist tries in vain to take on the role of an investigating journalist and retell the goings-on in society, while forgetting the sense of composition, colour and humour, necessary means for an artist for millennia.
Mother Earth is mighty and regulates life that is over-consuming and hostile to the environment with volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and other means. An artist is in no position to control that.
I believe that an artist’s role in modern society is to gaze into himself, find his focus and convey various forms of human existence and encourage people to be joyous and positive.

Adriana Pistoletti is a curator and art historian residing on the Island of Capri.