Evald Okas (1915-2011)

Okas, Evald (1915 - 2011) On a Horse. (1958)

Evald Okas, an eminent figure in Estonian art, was born in 1915 and lived until 2011. Hailing from Tallinn, his artistic journey began at the State Art and Industrial School where he pursued a degree in decorative painting from 1931 to 1937. His thirst for knowledge led him to the State Higher Art School between 1938 and 1941. His dedication to art during turbulent times saw him joining fellow Estonian artists in Yaroslavl between 1941-1942.

Okas’ impact on Estonian art is profound. He was among the visionaries who established the Union of Artists of the Estonian SSR in 1943. His commitment to nurturing talent shone brightly when he took up teaching roles, first at the Estonian School of Art and Industry in 1939 and later as a senior teacher post-1944. By 1954, he was revered as a professor, a position he held with distinction until 1993 when he was honored with the title of emeritus professor.

The breadth of his accolades speaks volumes. From being a member of the Union of Artists of the Estonian SSR to being recognized as the People’s Artist of the USSR, his contributions were widespread. His early artistic expressions revolved around portrait painting and nude sketches. Post-war, he diversified, touching upon historical, military themes, and even large-scale compositions. His collaborations with Elmar Kits and Richard Sagritz resulted in the magnificent ceiling artwork at the theater hall “Estonia”. The subsequent decades saw him delve into graphics, experiment with various techniques, and draw inspirations from global travels. His mastery in author’s lithography is best illustrated in “Kaleviopeg”. Okas’ prolific work also spanned writing, from the illustrative book “Pictures of Japan” to the technical manual on intaglio printing co-authored with Kanguilaski.

The testament to his artistic prowess can be observed in over 50 solo exhibitions dedicated solely to him. Collaborations with other artists like Sagrits, Uutmaa, Einmann, and Reindorf further enriched the Estonian art scene. Art aficionados can now cherish his works, available at the online gallery Rios Art Gallery.