Book illustrations by Latvia's Art Deco pioneer on show in Rīga

The artist Romans Suta is turning 120 this year. While most of the festivities are slated for next year, 2016 has seen a number of events dedicated to one of the pioneers of Latvian modern art. A series of book illustrations by Romans Suta are on show at the Museum of Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova, reported Latvian Radio's Baiba Kušķe Wednesday.

"The first thing that comes into mind thinking about Suta is his unquenchable energy and, of course, that [working in] a single art form was not enough for him," said Nataļja Jevsejeva, the head of the museum. Romans Suta was a painter, scenographer, interior and film designer, art theoretician and critic, as well as a writer, story teller, and more.

Maija Lāce, director of the Latvian National Art Museum, singles out Suta as one of Latvia's greats.

"[Suta was] an artist who, with his endless movement and prodding of intellectual thought has always thought and worried about, and fought for Latvia's national art, but not in a narrow national sense but wider in its European resonance," said Lāce.

Suta's contribution to Art Deco was particularly large as the artist set up the Baltars porcelain workshop that proved popular across the world and is part of the Latvian Culture Canon. It can be said that modern design in Latvia started with Suta.

"I think that the heritage of Romans Suta is very much alive and actual. It's a link between past, present and future, as he truly was a man of the future and very open to ideas," said Inese Baranovska, head of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design.

Even during his life Romans Suta became legendary with some of the myths perpetuated by the man himself. During the October Revolution, Suta was in Russia and supposedly received a million Rubles in royalties, said Nataļja Jevsejeva.

"He told that back then he barricaded himself inside a restaurant and ate and drank together with his friend for several days, until all the money was spent on food and drink. And he had many such stories," said Jevsejva.

The exhibition of book illustrations, titled From a Word to a Line, reveals Suta as a masterful artist sensitive to the visual aspects of texts.

Suta's illustrations will be on show until early December, while the events dedicated to his birthday will culminate next spring when major exhibitions dedicated to Suta will be on show at the National art gallery and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design. 

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