Angela Maasalu, Meaning well. Pencil and watercolor on paper, 2022. View to exhibition "A Fool with a Heart of Glass" at Tartu Art House, curated by Maria Arusoo, 2023. Photo: Anu Vahtra

Angela Maasalu (1990) is a painter whose work focuses on personal and intimate themes. She is interested in contradictory human experiences, simultaneously recognising happiness and sadness, the drama and comedy of life. She often uses autobiographic elements to tell stories, combining them with symbolic and poetic imagery in order to expand her personal experience to a more widely understood level. Her work is metaphorical, fairytale-like and relies on narrative beyond the image.

Maasalu begun working with personal and everyday topics during her Master’s studies and after graduating she has often explored the daily life of her generation. She focuses on themes like socialising, relationships, personal space and home. In 2016 Maasalu presented her solo exhibition “Home” at The Back Room project space in London and in 2017 followed it up with “Kodu II” (Home II) at Vaal Gallery. During the performative exhibition project Maasalu continued examining the various meanings of home, building a house in the gallery space and relating that to the institutional white cube. Highlighting oppositions like a home that’s secure and a home that’s made dangerous by close relationships, public and private space, and goals and real opportunities, Maasalu contemplated ways to make oneself heard in the context of contemporary art. She addressed the notion of security and the meaning of home also with her solo exhibition “Clytemnestra never loved you” (2016) at the DA Gallery in Greece. At the group show “Metaphors for a home” (2018) at Tartu Art Museum Maasalu looked at themes like homelessness, community and constantly being on the road.

In 2019 Maasalu presented the show “Throbwerk” (with Kate Lyddon, curated by Tamara Luuk), focusing on the meanings and functions of female bodies. Maasalu introduced expressive and emotional paintings and drawings that made visible the relationship between physical and emotional pain, love and hate, humiliation and shame, and desires and suffering. She broke the art historical codes of depicting women and violently brought to light how the (market) value of the female body as an object of consumption decreases in time.

At the end of 2019 Maasalu opened her solo exhibition at Hobusepea gallery titled “Cave for forgotten dreams”, centred on the image of the cave as storage for memories and dreams. This exhibition confirmed the artist’s interest in text and demonstrated its influence on her work. In parallel to paintings Maasalu presented fairytale-like texts and allegories.

Angela Maasalu lives and works in London. She studied painting and art history at the University of Tartu (BA, 2012), and painting at the Estonian Academy of Arts (MA, 2015), as well as at UAL Central Saint Martins in the UK (2013–2014). In 2017 and 2019 Maasalu was nominated for the AkzoNobel Art Prize (formerly Sadolin Art Prize). She has had solo exhibitions in Tallinn, London and Irákleios, Greece.


Selected projects

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