Okas was born in Tallinn, where he began his artistic career while studying at the State Art School. With the advent of World War II and the Soviet invasion and occupation of Estonia, he was subsequently mobilized into Soviet army, but, like many other Estonians, moved to work battalions in Kotlas, Russia. When the Soviet officials decided to organize the artistic collectives in the Soviet rear in Yaroslavl, several Estonian artists, including Okas, were provided with an opportunity to leave the work battalions and join the artistic ensembles in 1942. The "Yaroslavl artists", as they became to be known, were also the founding members of the Soviet Estonian Artists Union established in 1943. In Yaroslavl Okas befriended the rather well-known Estonian graphic artist Aino Bach and Richard Sagrits who mentored Okas and helped him hone his skills as an artist. By Soviet regulations, however, all artists were expected to paint in the Social Realism genre.
In 1947, Okas, with Elmar Kits and Richard Sagrits painted the ceiling of the Estonian National Opera in the style of Socialist Realism. By the late 1950s, Evald Okas was working mainly in the medium of charcoals and earning his living by sketching ex libris - graphic designs that identify the owner of a book, usually pasted onto the inside cover. Around this time Okas was even given permission to travel; first, within the Soviet Republics, then later worldwide and exhibit works as far afield as Asia and Western Europe.
Evald Okas lived in Tallinn and was a member of the Estonian Artists’ Association.
- Elle Anupõld, Ikka ainult kunsti pärast. http://www.videvik.ee/503/okas.html
- Teet Veispak, Uue tee algus: Evald Okas ja Jaroslavl. Sirp, 07 Oct 2005.
- "Estonia laemaal – sisult sotsialistlik, vormilt rahvuslik " Archived August 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. (Estonian)
- Artist's biography. http://www.evaldokasemuuseum.ee/okas/elulugu.html
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