Ants Murakin was born on 8 January 1892, in the village of Kaarlimõisa, in Mulgimaa. He was a painter, mainly of landscapes, but also worked as a translator. The artist’s interest in nature and his observation of natural phenomena contributed to his translation work. Murakin is known as a painter of South-Estonian landscapes. During his 25-year creative period, he created around 1000 works. He has been described as a lyricist and a thoroughbred lover of nature, who was able to convey and interpret the great joy and sorrow of nature.

From 1906–1910, Ants Murakin studied at the Tartu Art School and the Bazani Theatre decorations workshop, where he improved his knowledge as an external student. In Tartu, in addition to nature and painting, Murakin developed his third passion – language and literature. He met well-known authors and poets, including J. Semper, G. Suits, and J. Aavik. Murakin was accepted as a member of the literary group Noor-Eesti in 1912, and his works were highly appreciated at art exhibitions. In 1913, he was drafted into the Russian army and assigned to the Grodno Hussars regiment in Warsaw. In 1914, Murakin became a prisoner of war in Galicia and was sent to a prison camp in Hungary. Because he spoke German, he became the camp interpreter. It was soon discovered that he was an artist, and he was given his own hut to set up a studio. As a linguist, Ants Murakin taught himself Hungarian and was given the task of finding the Volga Finns among Russian prisoners of war to explore their language. He later lived in Budapest, where he had a spacious studio, and painted as a freelance artist. While studying in Hungary, Murakin mostly studied with elderly old- school artists, as the younger ones were on the front line creating war paintings and drawings. Before returning to his homeland, the artist visited an exhibition of works confiscated from nobles in Budapest, which left a deep impression on him. The exhibition boasted a large number of French Impressionists and Cubists, as well as other classics such as Delacroix, Ingres, Manet, Monet, and Cézanne.

In 1920, Ants Murakin returned home to Mulgimaa. He started his teaching career in Viljandi as a drawing teacher at a private gymnasium for girls, where he worked until 1928. He was a correspondent for the local newspaper Sakala in the field of art and culture, author of nature stories, and theatre designer, playwright, and linguistic advisor at the Ugala Theatre. After marrying in 1932, Murakin moved to Tallinn, where he wrote for newspapers and worked as a freelance artist and art critic. In 1944, he fled to Sweden.

Ants Murakin was influenced by Konrad Mägi in the application of colour to canvas, and his sense of colour was also stimulated by Nikolai Triik, Paul Burman, and Jaan Koort (Vallikivi, 2020). Viljandi Trepimägi. Mid-1920s. Oil on canvas. Murakin’s paintings from the 1920s were characterised by an expressive style with intense colours and dominating blue (Vallikivi, 2020).

Viljandi Lake. 1930s. Oil on plywood. The colouring of his works made in Tallinn is toned down and the finishing is duller (Vallikivi, 2020).

Ants Murakin (1892-1975)
Lake Viljandi. 1930s. Oil, plywood. 64 x 96 cm.
The Museum of Viljandi

Ants Murakin (1892-1975)
Viljandi's trepimägi (stair hill), mid-1920s. Oil on canvas. 48×57 cm.
The Museum of Viljandi

KEYWORDS - cosmopolitan, has left a mark in the history of Estonian literature, art and theatre.