Valdur Ohakas (1925 – 1998)

Ohakas, Valdur (1925 – 1998). Landscape. (1995)

In the tumultuous era of the mid-20th century, Estonia bore witness to the ascendancy of a luminous talent, Valdur Ohakas (1925–1998). Celebrated for his masterful paintings, Ohakas’s fame was amplified by his academic background from the Tartu Art Institute, where he studied from 1944 to 1949. Tragically, post-graduation, he faced deportation to a Siberian camp, enduring there from 1949 to 1956. The Tartu Art Institute, originally known as the Pallas School, cultivated a distinct group of students during that period. Dubbed the ‘Tartu circle of friends’, Hulo Sooster emerged as a renowned figure within this circle, with Ohakas being his close friend and collaborator. Their collective identity resonated with the Pallas school ethos, often challenging the prevailing art conventions.

Resilient in spirit, after his release from the camp, Ohakas seamlessly integrated into an informal group in Tartu, primarily comprising his former academic peers. Their collective exhibition in 1960 is etched in history as a transformative moment in Estonian contemporary art. Ohakas’s artistic prowess became more conspicuous, drawing intrigue for his avant-garde techniques and his artistic parallels with mentor Elmar Keats. Sadly, a vast portion of his extensive artistic repertoire was consumed by a fire in 1991. Ohakas’s distinctive style was a harmonious amalgamation of abstractionism, cubism, surrealism, and fauvism. Rather than mirroring reality, he was captivated by the experimental interplay of colors and forms. Art connoisseurs can now behold and purchase his creations at the esteemed Rios Art Gallery online.