Retrospect exhibition 'Eduard Rüga in Exile' on display in Tartu

"Joy and Sorrow those Twin Brothers. Eduard Rüga in Exile." Source: Tartu City Museum

The exhibition "Joy and Sorrow those Twin Brothers. Eduard Rüga in Exile," is on display for the two final weeks at the Tartu City Museum. Eduard Rüga, a pioneer of multicolored relief printing in Estonia, was compelled to flee to Germany in 1944 and later to the United States.

With the exhibition at the Tartu City Museum, the international Estonian community commemorates the 120th anniversary of Rüga's (1903-1997) birth this year.

Rüga's labor-intensive colored woodcuts and engravings could be classified as national romanticism: from 1944 to 1949, he lived in Germany, and his works from this time period are nostalgic, but in 1949 he immigrated to the United States and his career took an unexpected turn, Krista Piirimäe, an art historian writes about the exhibition. "His 10 years of experience working in a chemical facility with pigments may have played a significant role in it. When Rüga returned home after work, he was too exhausted to scratch the wood, so he proceeded to cut linoleum and paint instead. This was fortunate, as the effect of gorgeous coloring in his art instantly stood out."

The works on display have both a cheerful and a sad effect, but in terms of visual language the overall impression is upbeat and warmly coloristic, she went on to say. "As was the case with all exiled artists, their approach became cosmopolitan. The first instance is "Natürmort" (1951-1952) in the style of Henry Matisse, in which the oriental interior and its exquisite lines are rendered in cold colors and are quite distinctive in style. Concurrently, he was captivated by Pablo Picasso, the preeminent artist of the 20th century. Previously, most of his works were devoid of figures; now, the opposite was true. Dense, angular lines and figures began to characterize his graphic compositions," Piirimäe writes.

The retrospective showcases about 100 artworks created between 1946 and 1992 from the collections of Pallas Art Society, Art Museum of Estonia, Under and Tuglas Literature Center of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Tartu Art Museum, and six private art collectors.

Enn Lillemets curated the exhibition and Inga Heamagi created its layout. The exhibition is open until August 19.


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Editor: Kaspar Viilup, Kristina Kersa

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