Sunday, August 3, 2014

Jekabs Kazaks

Ladies at the Sea
oil on canvas
110 x 100 cm
location unknown

Jekabs Kazaks (1895-1920) was one of the founders of Latvian classical modernism whose central subject matter was the tragic fate of Latvian refugees in World War I.

He was born in Riga, Latvia, as a son of a janitor. He studied at the Riga City Art School and the Penza Art School but interrupted by the World War I. Like many Latvian modernists, his formal artistic training and the choice of his most compelling subjects derived from his experience as a refugee during war.

He first drew his inspiration from the old masters, but starting in 1916, under the influence of French modernists, rapidly changed his style. He developed a generalized, simplified, expressive personal technique with object deformations, broken forms and a muted palette where the dominant neutral tones connected with chromatically accented patches. He was involved in the formation of the Expressionists' Group in 1919 and then the Riga Artists' Group as its theoretician and first chairman. His art was highly acclaimed by those of his contemporaries and his significance as an artist is ever increasing in the eyes of both local and foreign experts. By now, he is considered one of the most important Latvian artists of all times. Over 40 of his oil paintings as well as around 150 of his water colours and drawings are exhibited at the Latvian State Museum of Art.