J. Soikāns exhibition opening

Every city, county or village is proud of its history, culture, traditions and achievements. But the history of any city, county or village is made by people. Ludza can be proud to be the hometwon of the artist, illustrator, art critic, theorist and professor Juris Soikāns (1920 – 1995).

Juris Soikāns was born on April 12, 1920 in Ludza in the family of the well-known Latgalian cultural worker Jezups Soikāns. As the artist himself said, the love for all the beautiful things began to develop in him in the cradle, so to speak: “In Ludza, my personal growth took place in an environment saturated with the atmosphere of art”. His grandmother Anna Tabuleviča studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art and was a great watercolourist. Juris’s father, although a graduate of the Vilnius Military School, was a passionate archaeologist and wrote two books on archeology. Juris’ mother was educated at the St. Catherine’s Institute in St. Petersburg, where special attention was given to developing aesthetic sense. Her father’s sister Emilija was married to the well-known Latgalian artist of Polish descend  Aleksejs Gudelis-Gudļevskis. In 1940, Juris entered the Latvian Art Academy.

            He did well in his studies and from 1940 Juris started participating in art exhibitions. Unfortunately, he failed to complete his studies – in 1944 he was drafted into the Legion and remained in Germany.

            In 1951, J. Soikāns was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII, who awarded the artist a scholarship to study sacral art in Rome.

In 1966, the artist moved to Dortmund. There he became a  teacher in Helmholtz Gymnasium and began his career in art history and drawing pedagogy. Developed a theory of cybernetic aesthetics.

The artist worked in various graphic techniques, lithography, ink drawing, drawing with a Japanese palette knife, felt-tip pencil.

In many countries Soikāns is known for his graphic works on sacral themes, such as the Pope’s Cycle about the laden with responsibilities and difficult role. The artist sought to understand the great mysteries of life, perceiving all that is beautiful, good, and clear as a synonym for the divine concept, believing that real, great art leads man to divine clarity, and that art therefore has great power in shaping man and all mankind.

Soikāns has traveled to many European cities. His impressions resulted in a series of graphic works “Portraits of European Cities”. There are more than 1000 of them – London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Hamburg, Venice, as welll as Riga, St. Petersburg, etc. J. Soikan also has portrait drawings – about 8,000 items, presenting the artist’s  colleagues, artists and scientists. Since 1940, J. Soikāns has created graphic designs for more than 150 books. Soikāns is also the author of two hundred publications on various questions of art theory and life.

Endowed with a truly Latgalian toughness

Although he was loyal to the spirit of Western Europe, he was endowed with a truly Latgalian toughness, so he dedicated many of his works to his native Latgale, capturing its soul in true images and colors, giving them a truly Catholic Latgalian flavor.

In 1990, J. Soikāns returned to Latvia, taught a course on modern art pedagogy and cybernetic aesthetics at the University of Latvia, was a professor at the Latvian Academy of Culture. In the same year, several of his solo exhibitions were held in Riga, Rēzekne, Ludza, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. J. Soikāns’ works can be found in private collections and museums on all continents.

The heart of Juris Soikāns an honorary citizen of the city of Ludza, had stopped beating on November 15, 1995. J. Soikāns is buried in Ludza city cemetery.

Ludza Regional Studies Museum is proud to own J. Soikāns’ easel and several hundred of his works. In honor of our outstanding compatriot, Ludza Art School is named after Professor Juris Soikāns. From October 30, 2020, the exhibition “Juris Soikāns 100” will be on display at the Ludza Regional Studies Museum.