Boris Lurie | Untitled | circa 1949/50
Oil on wood | 50.8 x 38.1 cm
© Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA
This picture had such a special place in Boris Lurie’s biography that he bought back the small-scale work from a private collector towards the end of his life. It depicts the house where his family lived in the ghetto in Riga. Lurie showed it free and isolated on the background, like an island in a dark, storm-tossed world. Here, in the yard of the house on Kalnu Street, was where he embraced his childhood sweetheart, Ljuba, for the last time – she died, as did Lurie’s mother, grandmother and younger sister, at the Massacre of Rumbula in 1941. In the yard is the bed on which he and Ljuba would sit in his room in the evening for weeks on end when it became too dangerous for Jews to be out on the streets at night.
The small-scale oil painting evokes apocalyptic visual worlds ranging from Bosch to Greco, mixed with the stylistic features of Eastern iconography.
The work is a central part of his “War Series”, one of a series of drawings and oil works created after the war, reflecting his impressions right after the Holocaust. In the exhibition, this series will be presented in full and based on a hanging scheme devised by Lurie.