The artist and thinker Tõnis Vint (born 1942) is a living legend in Estonian art of the second half of the 20th century. In the 1960s he became the intellectual leader of the innovative aesthetic wave in post-war Estonian modernism, and a mentor who established his own school, which lasted for decades. Relying on his erudition in (art) traditions in different cultures and eras, Vint created a conceptual platform for interpreting and synthesising various visual phenomena which have been, directly or indirectly, the starting points for many representatives of various fields of art: different generations of artists, architects, designers, applied artists and others.
Under Soviet domination, when information about contemporary, and also some earlier Western art phenomena was severely restricted, and excessive curiosity could bring about harsh consequences, Tõnis Vint nevertheless managed to keep track of art processes on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The hunger for the smallest bits of knowledge was so great that people had enough patience to seek them out: in art magazines of more liberal Eastern bloc countries, in information exchanges with unofficial artists in Moscow and Leningrad, in the special collection of the State Hermitage Library, in antique shops and, from the beginning of the 1970s, in books passed on by friends in the West. On the basis of the abovementioned, Vint ‘reconstructed’ new Western art developments and world art history into one meta-system, which lacks analogues in the West.
In the centre of Tõnis Vint’s work are visual images – from highly acclaimed artworks or a folk ornament on an everyday item, from a painting or a film, from ancient times or today, Europe or other continents. In all of these images, Vint seeks a regularity that would posit them as elements of the ancient common world-view and shared means of signification, as universal cosmogonic symbols.
He has participated in various group exhibitions, the most recent include "Symmetrical Worlds – Mirrored Symmetries" in KUMU and "Euroland" in Temnikova & Kasela gallery.