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The portrait of President Ilves for the gallery of heads of state was painted by Kaido Ole


The portrait of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, about to complete his ten years in office, was unveiled today in the Office of the President. Painted by Kaido Ole, the portrait will be displayed on the first floor of the office building as part of the gallery of heads of state, which includes the portraits of presidents who held office before the Second World War, as well as of those who served since Estonia regained its independence.

Artist Kaido Ole describes the conception of the portrait of President Ilves as follows: "Above all, the portrait is an expression of the opinion of myself as a citizen – yes, I am quite content with him as a president. Furthermore, he met my expectations of a head of state more than the former presidents. If I had not been satisfied with his presidency, I would have never accepted the project.

Another important aspect was the complete and surprisingly accurate overlapping of our ideas for the portrait. As informal as possible, no idealisation, no excessive solemnity and not ultimately a representation of a leader and guide, but someone you would want to talk to, discuss matters with and acknowledge. A portrait that is quite playful, with a quirky, somewhat conflicting, funny mood yet also to be taken seriously, distinctive in part yet one that raises questions. Amidst all this he is an individual, not a president. In other words, good rapport with the model, which is essential for such a work.

Though I never usually frame my paintings, such works are framed. For this reason, I also felt the need to take this last step myself and have the frame designed and made to ensure that it would match the actual painting as opposed to the line of former portraits. We were certain that neither of us wanted it to be gilded or emphasise importance in a stereotypical way – instead to be somewhat modern and minimalist. Alas, golden frames are only gilded from the outside and their core is made of cheaper materials; therefore, to balance it out, this frame was made of solid iron, both inside and outside, and so represents a rare form."

Office of the President
Public Relations Department