Toivo Kulles, the sixth child born in the serene village of Sompa, found his early calling amidst nature while working as a shepherd. This early interaction with the great outdoors left an indelible mark on his spirit. His journey in the world of art commenced at the Jõhvi school, paving his path to the Tallinn State Art School. There, Toivo dived deep into the realm of graphic drawing. However, the tumultuous times of the Second World War interrupted his artistic pursuits.
With the war’s conclusion and Germany’s surrender, Toivo’s resilience brought him back to the academic fold. He joined the Institute of Applied Arts, soon earning accolades as a timely illustrator. Parallelly, he also carved a niche for himself as a distinguished book artist.
Distinctively, Toivo refrained from experimentation, gravitating towards dry point lithography. In 1950, he showcased the hardworking spirit of the Kiviõli oil shale plant workers through a series that resonated deeply with the local community. From the 1960s onward, his attention turned towards capturing the quaint allure of the older districts of the Estonian capital. While Toivo remained indifferent to the limelight, his raw talent spoke volumes, cementing his position as one of post-war Estonia’s finest artists. Today, art enthusiasts can witness his masterpieces at the Rios Art Gallery.