Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Karlis Padegs

Madonna with a machine-gun
oil on canvas
132 × 100 cm
Latvian State Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia

Karlis Padegs (1911-1940) is one of Latvia's most popular artists. He studied at the Art Academy of Latvia. He spent all his life in Riga with the exception of several years in childhood during World War I when he lived in Estonia. The presence of his motherland is, however, rarely felt in his art.

He acquired an original style and introduced shocking themes - using themes which were very iconoclastic at the time -, that sharply contrasted with the usually lyrical or heroic Latvian art of his time. He favored themes of modern urban life, antiwar subjects, ideal dream world, and sarcastic self-portraits. Bitter irony, grotesque, and paradoxes are among his most frequently employed means of expression. He used expressive distortion, refined features, sharp contrasts. He worked in oil, Indian ink, and ink wash, which were occasionally complemented with watercolors. He died in Riga from tuberculosis at the age of 29 years old.