LEONID KURIS a gifted artist as well as a versatile, witty and intelligent man capable of speaking several languages.
“When I lived in the Soviet Union I read Agatha Christhie’s books in Polish and that’s how I learnt this language. Later when I found friends in Poland, I could put my knowledge of Polish into practice.”
Leonid Kuris was born in 1944 in the Soviet Union. Although he is a historian, art captured his soul and his life. Thus, he studied drawing under the direction of Boris Pianida in the School of Plastic Arts at the Academy of Architecture in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
In early 70th Leonid Kuris started interesting in graphic art. He was taught by Wiecheslav Dozorets (1941-1993), a recognized wood engraver in Kiev. Kuris’s process of creation has also been influenced by professional and friendly contacts with such graphic artist as Georgy Malakov, Gershon Kravtsov, Michael Verkholantsev, Grigory Bosenko and Zbigniew Janeczek from Poland.
Up to 1991 Leonid Kuris was a Russian graphic artist. He participated in the international Biennale of Ex libris in Malbork and was recognized by Polish collectors and graphic artists as an ambitious and gifted man.
In January 1991 Kuris immigrated to Israel. The range of themes presented in his bookplates has broadened to include Judaic subjects such as scenes depicting the life of small Jewish towns in Eastern Europe, landscapes of Jerusalem and contemporary Israel.
Leonid Kuris has created over 500 bookplates for people of various nationalities, as European, Asian, American, professions and interests.
One can say that he is an artist of the world. Apart from the images connected with the history, religion and Judaic culture, he creates images for his friends and acquaintances from all over the world. Those graven images either contain elements derived from the owner’s culture and history or show features of their personality.
Leonid Kuris is not only an artist who has perfectly mastered the working practices of engraving but also a psychologist, who attentively observes the person whose image he is working on. Realism, poetry, solemnity along with the grotesque coexists in his works of art. The author himself on the one hand is a realist, standing firm against a life full of cares and dangers, whereas on the other hand he appears to be a romantic dreamer and lyrist who loves nature and animals. He is extremely amiable and warm with people. Everybody being in his company feels his extraordinary personal magnetism. Sometimes he takes reality very seriously and sometimes with sense of humor.
Bookplates he creates in linoleum-block printing, wood engraving, etching, dry point, zinc type and plastic, are not only full of despondency and solemnity but also constitute satire aimed at accepted conventions of every-day life. But above all, these are perfect bookplates and works of art that fulfill all the requirements of an image.
Leonid Kuris also collects bookplates. He possesses a remarkable collection of 30.000 items as well as a huge library on the subject. He participates in world congresses of ex libris and remains in touch with collectors from many countries. He presents his works on exhibitions all over the world and takes part in international ex libris contests. Some time ago he won an honorary prize for an ex libris for Hanna Glowacka in an international competition “Ex libris 2001” organized by the Raczynscy Library in Poznan.