With a Paintbrush and an Invisible Magnifying Glass. Magazine Life in Estonia

With a Paintbrush and an Invisible Magnifying Glass.

Kamille Saabre in magazine LIFE IN ESTONIA

Kamille Ateljee magazine Life in Estonia
Photo: Atko Januson

Magazine LIFE IN ESTONIA 2017 spring

By Anneliis Aunapuu. Photo by Atko Januson


She paints her models larger than life, in a direct  and indirect sense of the phrase. At exhibitions, Kamille stands out with minimalist, yet forceful motifs which she presents with a unique approach. Those are close-ups of life, details magnified to monumental dimensions.

From Fauna to Flora

In earlier years, she often painted the human being, portraying parts of the human body and investigating their nature and idea. Those, too, were large representations in order to make sure nothing essential went unnoticed. Today, she has arrived at the investigation of flora in its endless variations.

Traditionally, the painter sees the world in a visual way, characterised by form, colour and light. But with Kamille this order of importance is changed. Whereas all those attributes can and must be components of any painting, for Kamille it is essential to capture the structure and nature of the piece of reality she depicts irrespective of colour and form. The idea of the creator; the point of what she paints. Above this deep essence, her paintings simply emanate light and colour, life juices flow out in streams and fragrances are sprayed into the air as clouds, brimming with admiration and positivity.

Although the formats of her paintings remain in ‘human measurements’, what is depicted on them is often magnified twenty-fold. Her florid handling of the paintbrush embodies freedom, although every detail is important as it conveys the idea of the structure of the subject.

Up-close the layers of paint and the bold brush strokes are enjoyable, but when you view it from a distance you start to fathom the big and wonderful nature of the subject, sense the pulsation of life in it.

Often she has been clever to paint her image on several canvases and join them later on the wall. It is a somewhat practical approach, making the works easier to grasp, domesticate, transport and exhibit. In contrast to some other artists whose works even art museums have trouble fitting, this just expresses Kamille’s understanding and practical approach to her audience and the future owner of her work. Speaking about her work, Kamille expresses a strong and responsible connection to her community. She does not create from a place of egoism, pouring out her inner battles or depicting the screams of the artist’s vulnerable soul. Neither does she just create something without care, without an audience in mind, to the contrary, she claims to want to know where her ‘babies’ end up − if and who and how they will appreciate and understand her vision.

Frames and Heavenly Light (in flesh and spirit)

She is not satisfied with a little, with perfecting small and submissive pictures, capturing or illustrating life. Instead she aims to grasp the whole, to capture the uncapturable. Her works have a life-affirming decorativeness, mixed with cleverness and respect for life. Kamille does not use frames, but rather seems to look for them in herself. Her paintings do not really need frames; they are stable, painted onto canvas stretched onto a V-frame, perfect in their honesty and sincerity. Only two paintings have been framed as they happened to find themselves in very fine company − at the Tallinn Arts Hall exhibition “Lush and Perishability“ at the Kadriorg Palace. In that baroque hall, surrounded by old Dutchmen, those frame-less canvases would have seemed too naked.

Kamille only paints in natural light. The spacious living room with a glass wall in her white and bright home, also operates as her studio in order to enable her to work there in the early light hours, of which there are not many in winter. In some winters, she says, it is impossible to paint because it is too dark. This is why at one of her exhibitions she included the background and birth stories of her works next to the works themselves. It later turned out that her emotionally imaginative texts were a perfect connection to the viewers as they received much feedback. It seemed that those fragments of thought were important for the viewer and helped them better connect with the background of the images.

A Colourful Mosaic of Influences

In many senses, Kamille is international. A mix of Estonian and Egyptian blood flows in her. For a while she studied in the USA (Rhode Island School of Design), and then continued her studies in painting at the Estonian Academy of Arts (graduated in 1995). Searching for herself in the physical and spiritual world, she discovered Christian truths. This path took her to the Swiss Alps where she found fellows and her future husband. Several languages are spoken in her Tallinn home, albeit not equally – her husband and two children prefer to speak German. At the same time, Kamille has not lost touch with her father’s family in the land of the Pharaohs, sometimes visiting it, the social and open communicator she is. One should not look for a direct bloodline between Kamille and her ancestors who crafted hieroglyphs into stone and painted magnificent images on tomb walls, but perhaps her activities include a slight essence of it. Her family members in Egypt are not artists, but specialised in sciences, her Egyptian sisters working as successful doctors, having chosen that way to help people.

Life in estonia kamille Saabre
Life in estonia

Kamille helps people with painting and pouring light and colour onto canvas. By bringing her motifs under the magnifying glass, she alleviates the viewers from having to hold the magnifying glass themselves − they get the perfect experience with their naked eye. And this in a direct and an indirect sense.

Kamille sees it as her artistic task to go in depth into the secrets of life. She appreciates balance and the search for it, likes to communicate with fellow travellers who love to think about how to handle the world, themselves, their families, homes and painting whilst being happy. Her paintings show what Kamille has spotted on her journey, captivating many viewers with their sincerity, strength and love of life.

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