Juri Robertovich Jürna and The Queen of England.

Last week, on a hot Marbella afternoon, Juri Robertovich Jürna, famed Estonian artist and farmer, slipped away from his Baltic hideaway to impart some wisdom with Marbella-Eye.


Born at a time when the Germans were placing their military towels on every beach bed this side of Dover including Estonia, Juri’s beginnings could hardly be described as being ideal.

Growing up in Estonia, now part of the USSR and ruled under the mighty hammer of Joseph Stalin, Juri started his artistic life at the tender age of 7 when his mother Aliide (originally from Kazakhstan) took him to art classes. Juri’s art of course stayed at home of course due to the lack of respect any form of art was given in those dark days.

Juri recalls how in those days, anyone not working was immediately hauled off to prison and that this is exactly what happened to him one day whilst out buying some art supplies.Having to join the army at 18 Juri was set to work painting 300 portraits of Lenin by a Jewish General he had befriended, but quickly realised this wasn’t his cup of tea and deserted, not the brightest thing to do I guess with the Siberian salt mines just a train ride away, but Juri caught a break and ended up being sent to a mental asylum instead. Luckily for Juri the Russians had more to think about with the Cuban missile Crisis looming and released him back into the wild where he belongs. Juri then spent 30 years as a veterinarian and indeed horses do appear in many of Juri’s paintings, I have one on my living room wall.

Inspired by humanity, Juri’s style has never changed since it’s beginnings, its quick, spontaneous and colourful with some paintings being finished within an hour of their inception. I find his art enlightening and free with no thought applied to the general rules of painting.

My favorites and I would have to say his forte, are portraits, again all done from memory, are quite excellent in my book. Ballet dancer and famed dissident Rudolf Nureyev has been immortalised on canvas, in oils by the “Man with the serious face”, a reference to a film made about Juri a few years ago.

And now to the Queen, yes indeed, Lizzie, Queen of England and others does indeed own one of masterpieces, and one of the better portraits I have seen of her. I have two of Juri’s paintings and Tom Ford also owns one, so if it’s good enough for the Queen it’s good enough for me.

Juri, now 70, spends most of his time in Estonia on his small farm tending his flock of animals and producing new images at lightning speed. The artist recently returned to exhibit for the second time in Kasser Rassu in Marbella.

Author: Johnny Gates

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