The exhibition Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try presented a portrait of an artist reckoning with devastating trauma, haunting memories, and an elusive, lifelong quest for freedom. Pictured here is Lurie’s “Untitled (37 Ludzas Street)” that was previously on view.
A few months after occupying Riga, the Nazis confined all 30,000 of the city’s Jews into a rundown suburb, the newly established Riga Ghetto. In the Riga Ghetto, Lurie’s family shared tight quarters with other residents at 37 Ludzas Street. This eponymous painting conveys a desolate, unnatural stillness, with the swirling sky menacing an empty, snow-blanketed street. His girlfriend, Ljuba, lived around the corner; they met for the last time in a snowy courtyard nearby.
Barely six weeks after the establishment of the Ghetto, the SS announced “evacuations.” In truth, they intended to liquidate the entire Jewish population of Latvia, save for a small slave-labor force. Boris and Ilya, as able-bodied men, were eligible for labor instead of evacuation. Shaina made the wrenching decision to send them to ghetto’s small work camp, thus separating the family. She prepared a feast for their last meal together, and then Boris and Ilya left what had briefly become their family home. Decades later, he wrote, “This is the reason I still hate banquets, elaborate meals.”
Visit the Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try exhibition page to learn more about Boris Lurie.