H.E. Kuckein was born and raised near the Baltic city of Königsberg/Kalingrad, Prussia. His early interest in drawing was encouraged by his brother and he began painting in oils at the age of twelve. Although largely self taught, Kuckein studied under German artist F.W. Schulz during World War II. Upon arriving in Canada in the early 1950's, Kuckein completed his architectural training which he had begun in Germany. Kuckein settled in Vancouver and continued to paint while pursuing a successful career in architecture.
Kuckein’s experience with design is evident in his paintings, many of which combine contemporary structure with soft brush strokes and colour. His paintings are created with generous layers of oil paint, giving his work an unusual depth and luminous presence. He resists explaining his work, feeling that the paintings must speak for themselves.
Kuckein is considered one of Canada's most important contemporary artists.