President Karis on passing of Jüri Arrak: 'He unified and enriched us all'

Jüri Arrak.
Jüri Arrak. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Sunday evening, October 16, renowned and beloved Estonian artist Jüri Arrak passed away at the age of 85.

1936-born Jüri Arrak was a renowned Estonian painter and graphic designer from Tallinn.

Arrak graduated from the Mining Engineering School in Tallinn in 1955 and from the Estonian State Art Institute (ERKI) in 1966 with a degree in metalworking.

He worked as an artist at the Tallinn Metal Products Factory from 1967 to 1968, a production artist at "Tallinnfilm" studios from 1968 to 1969 and a freelance artist since then. He was a member of the artist collective ANK'64 and from 1969 a member of the Artists' Union.

Arrak began painting and printmaking while still a student. The universe he depicted in his graphic works and paintings is bewildering; the mask motif reappears from painting to painting with varying connotations.

Jüri Arraku isikunäitus "Joonistatud visioonid" Rahvusraamatukogus Autor/allikas: Ken Mürk/ERR

As he matured, the irony of his earlier works faded and existential concerns became more prominent, especially in his treatment of biblical subjects. The religious motif reaches its climax in the altarpiece of Hallist Holy Anna Church (1990). Arrak created an memorable interpretation of the story.

Arrak has been an active participant in Estonian art life since the early 1970s, and his creative productivity has not diminished even in his eighties. The artist held more than a hundred solo shows during his lifetime.

Arrak has been awarded the II Class of Order of the White Star by the president of Estonia in 2000.

President Alar Karis extended his condolences to Arrak's family, friends and coworkers, as well as to the entire nation of Estonia on social media, and thanked the artist for his creative life.

"Jüri Arrak's personality and hand were unique, his work is instantly recognizable, ageless and time-transcending. A great Master who influenced multiple generations, linked us all, enhanced our lives and gave our existence meaning has passed away," Karis wrote.

The president added that during his most recent encounter, just a few months ago, at the artist's anniversary exhibition at the Mikkel Museum in Tallinn, he witnessed how keen, vibrant and youthful a creative person of senior age can be.

Jüri Arrak's exhibition at the Mikkel Museum in Tallinn in 2022 Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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