Ülo Sooster (1924 – 1970)

Sooster, Ülo (1924 – 1970). Naked Sitting. (1949)

Ülo Sooster was born on a quaint farm named Pendi, situated in the heart of independent Estonia. When he turned 19, he embarked on his artistic journey at the prestigious Pallas art school. However, fate took a turn when he was conscripted into the German army at 20. Demonstrating an indomitable spirit, he deserted and made his way back to the comforting embrace of his homeland. For a significant portion of his life, specifically until he was 49, Sooster pursued his passion and honed his skills at Pallas. But adversity struck again, branding him an ‘enemy of the people’. He found himself imprisoned in Karaganda until 1956. Upon his release, the winds of change took him to Moscow. It was here that he formed an association with Sobolev-Nolev. His prodigious talent began to gain recognition, leading him to cross paths with other notable artists like Ryabin, Neizvestny, and Zhutovsky. The year 1958 saw him tie the knot with Lydia Serch, marking a new chapter in his life where he inaugurated solo exhibitions.

1962 was a milestone year for Sooster. He was an active participant in the anniversary presentation hosted by the Moscow Union of Artists. But post its denunciation by Khrushchev, he found himself without a professional anchor. This setback led him to adopt the pseudonym ‘Smorodin’. Warsaw became his new canvas where he held exhibitions, whilst simultaneously collaborating with Tsentrnauchfilm. Sadly, Ülo Sooster’s journey came to an end on October 25, 1970. In a fitting tribute, he rests in his homeland, Estonia. Today, art aficionados can indulge in an online collection of this celebrated Estonian artist’s works at the Rios Art Gallery.