Heikki Leis was born in 1973 in Tartu, a university town in the south of Estonia, and has lived, studied and worked in this city for most of his life. He started dabbling in art at an early age and liked to draw and so attended the Children’s Art School. Since then he has studied art, photography, sculpture and masonry at Tartu Art School graduating in 1995. Involved in art on and off after the school and wandering around the world he has been exhibiting from 2003.
As a child he also took up photography taking pictures with a “Smena” and developed them at home, but then this hobby was left aside for years until re-discovering this wonderful apparatus again in 2002. At first his photos were on film, but now have moved on to the digital world. Lately returning to his roots, Heikki procured a Hasselblad to once again dabble in film-photography.
This idea grew out of photographing Peeter Volkonski once and started slowly developing from there on.
The people are different figures in Estonian culture – here we have musicians, singers, actors, poets, directors etc. I wanted to have both men and women, both young and old and of course it was important to me that they be interesting characters and that what they do has somehow influenced me, or they set an example for me. I also wanted the model’s hands to be displayed, since they are the most characteristic part of a person besides the face.
I use pencils of different thickness and hardness and a paper for these drawings, I draw from photographs I have made.
My drawings are quite often taken for photos or photo-shopped pictures, especially when one looks at them online. When you look at the original from close range, it is quite clear, they are drawings and people tend to be amazed. It gives me quite the bit of satisfaction that I have achieved what I wanted.
Yes, music plays a very important role. I listen to different things, but while working I enjoy more relaxed and deeper music. I can list Morrissey, Tricky and Portishead as favourites, also a lot of Estonian music of late…
Many good bands have sprung up in Estonia over the last few years and a lot of them are good live. I like Pedigree lives the best, they have a lot of energy and everything has been well thought through. Of course lighting is always important to me as a photographer, the quality of photos depends on it a lot.
Quite often the bands will turn the lights very low and it can be difficult to get a good photo then.
I am motivated by life around me. I like to travel a lot and gather some new thoughts from that. Music, films, people, photography – it all inspires me.
The drawings do tend to take a bit of time, depending on the difficulty of the picture and the amount of details. I drew this series for two years, one picture takes about a month if you draw a little bit every day. I use an eraser very seldom, and especially if you draw with a pen, then there is nothing to erase.
I have often thought that I would not like to have an exhibition in regular galleries, but somewhere in the nature or in old run-down buildings, where one would have a lot of space and some sort of special atmosphere. It would be cool to have an exhibition in the middle of a desert, but getting people to see it would be a different matter. A friend and I once had a plan to do an exhibition at the botanical garden, but weather would play a big role and that would become quite difficult.
I do not know if there is anything in the air here that predisposes making art. I am somewhat influenced by these dark and cold autumns and winters, since then there is time to sit at home and fool around with it. During the warm summers I generally do not feel like sitting around and drawing.
Is life too serious to be taken seriously? Favourite animal is a dog, called Harry the Lurcher. Now somewhere in space.
Opinions are like arseholes – everybody has one. Amateur critics make me giggle.
To Argonut and NO – here’s a suggestion – in three parts –
1) take a high quality photograph with proper equipment, the right lighting and using years of skilled experience that enables your creative eye to make the photo look more than just a ‘snap’…
2) take a few pencils, a blank piece of paper, plenty of time (so you can get it right) and attempt to reproduce with your hands what the you made the camera take…
3) post your results here…
That way we objective people who appreciate skilled creations can judge which one is “art” and which one is just “shit”.
Have a good day :)
Kunst ei ole mitte kunsti teha, vaid kunst on kunstis kunsti näha. Not art. Define art. It’s not art for you, it is definitly art for me.
////they have no volume nor life – they are superficial… graphic ////
I disagree. I’d say that these images have more life, than the original photographs. If you can not see it, you seem stupid to me.
I’d like to say, that you are superficial. You don’t understand hyperrealistic art, and yet you comment heavily.
Nice comment NO, articulate, well thought through and supportive. Did you even read the article? Only one real comment on this – it takes one to know one.
machines… is there any difference of the human and machine? this is just reproduction. sad and bad.
Sadly, these drawings are obviously transpositions of photos, they have no volume nor life – they are superficial… graphic … not art!
Heikki has an exhibition now running in Tartu at Athene. Check it for these and more works.