Leonid R. Koff, more commonly known as Lee Koff, was a native of Moscow, Russia. Despite his city origins, he spent much of his formative years immersed in the expansive beauty of the Southern Ural Mountains. The natural splendor of these landscapes deeply influenced Koff’s spiritual and artistic journey, leading him to express his experiences through art from a young age.
The images he created, initially rendered in pen, pencil, and watercolor, often reflected the solitude and subdued colors of his surroundings. However, they also revealed a young artist grappling with the constraints of realism imposed by his environment, which discouraged any ventures into abstraction or surrealism.
Seeking artistic freedom, Koff emigrated to the United States in 1973. Here, his creativity found new heights. Ironically, the challenges he faced in navigating a new language opened up other sensory pathways, enhancing his ability to translate his imagination onto canvas.
Koff often remarked on this period of growth. He believed that art should be felt as deeply as it is thought about. Exposure to the vibrant art scene in Boston significantly influenced his work, guiding it towards classic surrealism.
In addition to his artistic pursuits, Koff also delved into the study of geology, geophysics, and geochemistry. His unique fusion of art and science resulted in intense imagery combining earthly and alien colors—a style that mirrored an adventure in time.
Koff believed that all paintings exist within one's consciousness. To him, the line represented the message, and color signified emotion. This philosophy culminated in what he termed Perceptual Focus. His artwork, therefore, often induced a tension between ego and spirit, echoing the influences of Van Gough, Cezanne, Picasso, and Dali.
His nickname, Leeanderthal, arose from his fascination with ancient cultures and civilizations. Through metaphysical explorations, readings, and meditations, he came to understand its true significance as the whispered offerings from the Age of Earth poets. These poets, he imagined, dreamt the Earth into the Gardens of Eden and explored her with their bodies and minds.
In 2012, Koff met Nina Landgraff, a fellow artist. Their meeting sparked a collaborative journey that extended beyond the canvas, blossoming into a strong friendship that would endure for years. They painted together, held many art exhibitions, and generously volunteered their time to teach others about art.
Sadly, Koff passed away in 2014 due to heart-related complications. Throughout his life, he generously shared spiritual and cultural enrichment within his community, profoundly influencing many lives. His legacy remains vibrant within his artwork, continuing to inspire and provoke thought among its viewers.