Lepo Mikko (1911–1978)


Lepo Mikko graduated from Pallas in 1939, in other words, fate had designated the very complicated 1940’s as the starting period of his creative career. Mikko nevertheless did not withdraw. He painted and participated in exhibitions, even though he completed few works at that time and most of them were small format studies. They were strongly influenced by an exhibition of French art that he saw at the Tallinn Art Hall during his last year of school. That exhibition was like a symbolic finale to the admiration of French culture that lasted throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s in Estonia. The works of Picasso, Juan Gris and others did not only decisively affect Mikko – a whole series of painters of that time thought about art differently after leaving the exhibition than they did when they arrived at the exhibition. Thus a certain calm impressionism characterises that early Mikko. Colours are muted and refined, painting is done with the aid of surfaces, and the foundation based on drawing becomes secondary. For this reason, many consider the 1940’s to be a happy period for Mikko, when perhaps his best works were completed.