Leonhard Lapin, one of the most important avant-garde artists of the postwar generation, first emerged on the fine art scene in the 1960s with a group of young innovative artists called SOUP ’69. A unique style, Soviet Pop, which employed the principles of American Pop Art, developed in the rather limited local circumstances.
In 1972 Lapin began his extensive, and his best-known, series of prints, titled Machines, a commentary on the technological world. In the mid-1970s Lapin became interested in the radical heritage of the Russian avant-garde, which strongly influenced his own work. Then the pictures which paid homage to Kazimir Malevich and the politically charged Signs series were completed. In his postmodernist paintings of the mid-1980s, Lapin explored painful choices in a society undergoing change. Since the 1990s Lapin has been involved in Suprealism, a concept of his own invention which is a commentary on consumer culture.
In the title Void and Space, “void” is used to denote Lapin’s abstract geometric works and his spiritual quest, and “space” is used to refer to his activities in the social and cultural spheres. The exhibition in the Great Hall of the Kumu Art Museum offers an overview of Lapin’s work of five decades, starting with the 1960s. His well-known serialised prints, mythological paintings, architectons and the Code series, as well as lesser known early drawings, geometric tales and new works, are on view.
Lapin is actively involved with arts and culture: he has been a practising artist and architect, has tackled cultural-theoretical and topical issues, has written prose and poetry, and as an art teacher has encouraged and motivated many students.
The book accompanying the exhibition provides insights into Lapin’s varied work, with articles by Anu Allas, Mari Laanemets, Asko Künnap and Sirje Helme. Earlier editions of the Estonian art classics series presented the work of Tõnis Vint, Raul Meel, and Jüri Okas.
Exhibition curator: Sirje Helme
Coordinator: Karin Pastak
Exhibition design: Mari Kurismaa
Graphic design: Tuuli Aule
Collections of the Art Museum of Estonia, the Tartu Art Museum, the Museum of Estonian Architecture, the Estonian Artists’ Association and private collections