The exhibition dedicated to the 130th anniversary of the artist Mihail Jo (1893-1960) continues in the “Jews in Latvia” museum.
Mihails Jo (real name – Meiers Joffe) was born in Vitebsk, but lived most of his life in Riga. He was a painter and graphic artist, set designer and theatre theorist, teacher and art critic.
Using drawings, decorations and book illustrations, the exhibition presents different sides of Jo’s work, but it cannot be called strictly artistic: most of the artist’s work has disappeared. The “Jews in Latvia” museum keeps a special collection of his sketches, but the exhibition focuses on textual materials: documents, letters, memories. Through them, Jo reveals himself not only – and not even so much – as an artist, but also as a person.
The artist’s imprisonment and exile in the Gulag as part of Stalin’s last anti-Semitic campaign can be called one of the main motives of the exhibition. M. Jo spends five years in Vorkuta, but he doesn’t stop being creative there either. Sketches created by him in exile have survived, as well as letters from grateful students whom Jo taught painting in the camp.
Theater occupied an important place in Yo’s life. At the exhibition you can see, for example, his book on the theory of Jewish theater “Theater of Pessimism” (1938), a joint photograph with members of the troupe of the Moscow Jewish Theater (1940s) and a photograph of the scenery made by the artist for the play “Day and Night” (1927) at the Riga Jewish Theater. It is in this building (today the Riga Jewish Community) that you can see an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Mikhail Yo.