Priidu Aavik (1905 – 1991)

Priidu Aavik

Priidu Aavik, born as the fifth of nine siblings, embarked on his artistic journey under the watchful eye of his schoolteacher father, Eduard Aavik. At the tender age of 17, Priidu made his move to Tallinn. Here, he immersed himself in the bustling art scene, honing his skills at the Ants Laikma Studio School. His quest for knowledge led him to the Higher Art School in Pallas, Tartu by 1934. Under the tutelage of greats like Nikolay Triig and Ado Vabbe, he flourished until 1938 before returning to Tallinn and setting up his own studio.

The next chapter of his life took him to Paris in 1939. Though he sought to deepen his artistic prowess, the onset of war forced a swift return. The year 1941 saw Aavik drafted into the Red Army, where he stood his ground in the Leningrad battles. He later transitioned to Yaroslavl, playing a pivotal role in establishing the team of Estonian artists in Yaroslavl and the Union of Soviet Artists of Estonia. Aavik’s leadership streak continued as he spearheaded several institutions in Estonia post the war.

Aavik’s canvas predominantly captured historical moments, breathtaking landscapes, and vignettes of daily life. His fascination with the fishing life often took center stage, a theme likely inspired by his voyages on a fishing trawler in the Norwegian Sea and across the Atlantic to Nigeria. Summers saw him on the island of Prangli, painting the serene life of beach fishermen. His artistic debut was marked by the 1938 exhibition showcasing the works of the Pallas Art School graduates in Tartu. Tying the knot with Helmi Trey, sister of artist Salome Trey, Aavik’s life was as vivid as his paintings.

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