Malle Leis


Malle Leis (1940-2017) Kuvataiteilija

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Malle Leis (7 July 1940 – 9 August 2017) was an Estonian painter and graphic artist. Her works mostly represent abstract forms in nature, including flowers, fruits, and vegetables. She developed a silk screen technique that became her trademark.

Early life and education

Malle Leis was born on July 7, 1940 in the town Viljandi, Estonia, a country on the Baltic Sea across from Finland. Leis began her education at the Tartu Art School attending from 1958 to 1961 and attended the Estonian Academy of Arts (also called Art Institute of Tallinn, see Wiki for associated names in past) from 1961 to 1967. Leis graduated from the stage design department in 1967 and was able to be recognized as one of the original members of ANK '64.

In 1964, a group of young artists in Tallinn formed an organization called ANK '64. Original members of ANK' 64 included students of the art institute, Malle Leis, Tõnis VintJüri Arrak, Kristiina Kaasik, Tõnis Laanemaa, Marju Mutsu, Enno Ootsing, Tiiu Pallo-Vaik, Vello Tamm, and Aili Vint. The small group aimed to hold exhibitions outside the official system, to change theoretical ideas, and to organize private seminars on modern art. Each of these goals were being neglected by the art institute, and ANK '64 worked to change that. The small group influenced many younger beginner artists. Many artists argued that ANK '64 played more of a role in artistic development than the institute would have. Over the years, ANK '64 offered various intense exhibitions, lectures, performances, and other activities to young students.[3] With being involved in this group, Leis became very familiar with Western contemporary art. Leis preferred working in abstract in the early sixties, but eventually developed an interest in pop art towards the end of the decade.



Leis typically worked with oilwatercolor, and serigraphs, establishing herself not only as a painter, but also as a printmaker.

Styles in the 1960s

Leis' was highly influenced when being part of ANK '64, and mostly worked with an abstraction in the beginning of her career, but quickly moved to pop art style by the end of the 1960s. One of her early works was Exchange, a piece using oil and watch parts on canvas, done in 1968. Leis combined a background of geometric forms with pop elements. The juxtaposition of geometry and pop show Leis' knowledge and influence from Western contemporary art. The two male heads in the painting are portraits of her husband, Villu Jõvega.

Styles in the 1970s and 1980s

Leis began to paint large and bright flowers and vegetables in the 1970s, occasionally adding in human figures or horses. Leis' 1972 painting Sunlight Triptych shows striking red poppies and yellow daffodils against a flat blue background. She was likely inspired by Andy Warhol's 1964 series, Flowers, but still has her own unique style by painting a more detailed flower. In Leis' 1977 painting The Longest Day, Leis stretches tulips across the black canvas and places a human head in the bottom corner. The flowers are larger than the head, creating a dominant presence. The colorful flowers form an idea of life and happiness, but the head in the corner has been reduced to an object, simply gazing into space with an emotionless stare. These styles continued into the early 1980s. Leis began working with watercolors and silk screening in this time as well. Leis' husband helped her to develop her silk screening process, in which she would use ten to twenty different colors in each print. Her screen printed works had oriental resemblances, possibly inspired by Japanese artist Ogata Kōrin. Leis' screen printing technique quickly became her trademarked style.

Malle Leis (7. juuli 1940 Viljandi – 9. august 2017) oli eesti maalikunstnik.


Malle Leis sündis Õisu kooli haridusega meieri Vladimir Leisi ja Tartu Ülikoolis õppinud õpetaja Selma tütrena. Isa ameti tõttu rändas pere nii enne kui ka pärast sõda mööda Eestit ühest meiereist teise. Malle õppis siiski peamiselt Pärnus, ema poolt oldi põlispärnakad. Pärnu Koidula nimelises keskkoolis oli Malle jaoks tähtis hästitoimiv kunstiring, mida juhendas kunstikoolis Pallas õppinud Meeta Viks. Alates 1952. aastast elas perekond Pärnus.

Malle Leis jätkas kunstiõpinguid Tartu Kunstikoolis aastatel 1958–1961 ja ERKIs aastatel 1961–1967. Tema põhiliseks maaliõpetajaks oli Lepo Mikko.

Alates aastast 1969 oli ta Kunstnike Liidu liige, mis andis võimaluse tegutseda vabakutselise kunstnikuna.

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