The first work in the exhibition is The Art Council of the National Park. It is illustrative of Subbi’s artistic position, philosophy and interests. Next to him are artists and writers who would participate in the theoretical and political debates that followed Estonia into independence. From left to right are Ülo Sepp, Mait Summatavet, Enn Põldroos, Heinz Valk, Andres Kompus and a self-portrait of Olev Subbi. The Council was an unofficial artist’s union and represented the melding of politics, art and ecology. The themes that interested Subbi at the end of the 1970s connect to today’s contemporary sense of crises in nature and identity, with this crux comprising the base of this exhibition.
In this painting, Subbi looks insubmissively from the canvas, challenging a state which at the time seemed undefeatable. This is what drew people to his works, the inconceivable optimism and harmony that he emitted in an otherwise hopeless world. He was known for his stubbornness along with his sarcastic humour, and although he suffered as much as anyone during his life, he always repeated a phrase that represented his personality – “lucky like Subbi”.