THE PROCESS: ABOUT MY ARTISTIC PRACTICE (2010)
Born into a family of professional photographers in Finland, images have always played an intimate role in my life. In 1991, while an art student in France, I started to do symbolic artwork as a result of a deepening interest in the interpretation of dreams and various esoteric world views. Ever since, my main focus has been that of capturing a sense of alienation and despair teamed with hope and a desire to create meaning out of suffering.
The fragmentation of society affects me in certain ways but I also wish to counteract nihilism. As I have discovered the art scene in Wales, I have decided to become involved with the Disability Arts community - I can no longer pretend to keep up with the healthy artists who have to stamina to push through a very competitive art scene.
In the beginning, I worked with charcoal and red crayon, then inspired by impulses received during my artist's training in France, I started using inks and crayons, i.e. mixed media.
”Eve” is my first symbolic picture. It shows a naked and vulnerable female figure which feels rubberlike and unreal, and also is colourless. It describes a feeling of alienation and of not feeling at home in the world we live in. The red spheres are paradoxical; the red colour expresses a desire for full-blooded life. They are simultaneously fruits and something that is reminiscent of grenades. In this picture, I have subconsciously applied a biblical allegory, albeit without being Christian, and made it into a personal description of the fear of receiving what life has to offer. The fruits or grenades which can contain something good, i.e. the essence of life, can also explode in your face. In other words, you can never get anything in life without also subjecting yourself to the dangers of life.
I exhibited extensively throughout the 1990’s, in solo and group exhibitions in the South of Finland. Some time around the millennium I had to stop drawing, as my physical condition was preventing me from doing very finicky things with my hands. This is when inspired by my knowledge of the leisurely craft of découpage, I started making collages.
The art of my past is primarily symbolic art (symbolism), rather than surreal, as the latter would imply a certain lack of logic which I don't feel that mine display, as they follow the logic inherent in dreams, and dreams are not irrational.
My artistic intention is to highlight emotional and social issues but also connect it with my inner knowing of the underlying oneness of all existence. This inner knowing is not dependent on external sources. I may add that there are obviously times of soul searching and the questioning of one's purpose, as few things in our reality are clear as water. My art is all to do with change (as the only constant in the universe), transformation, letting go of the old, integration of the self, and just trying to adapt to life in the human realm and making the best out of it. I dive into the difficult parts of life while attempting not to lose sight of the 'other' reality.
In short, I wish to highlight the various levels and stages of individual and collective evolution in Wilberian sense, knowing that I can only truly understand the trials of human life by living it fully. This is also why I have taken it upon myself to talk about illness and dysfunction, as I wish to promote awareness and ultimately, acceptance. Only through the acceptance of pain can we transcend it. It is not about dwelling on negativity but to illuminate and thus increase understanding in myself and the audience.
Although I started out by drawing and painting on paper (mixed media), I resorted to the creation of collages due to some physical difficulties connected to my condition. I am fascinated with the interaction between a particular feeling, state of being or social critique that enters my mind and found images that I discover and compile to match these visions. I enjoy the communication that takes place between myself and the collective. I increasingly add my own visual elements such as personal photos and drawings.
My aim is to present my personal sphere of reference in relation to the rest of the world in symbolic terms, as I find symbols a powerful way of conveying a mixture of thoughts and feelings. I obviously also add my own visual elements such as photos and drawings.I do not consider myself influenced by any other artist, but feel affinity with well known artists of the past such as Giorgio de Chirico, Gustav Klimt, Renée Magritte, Frida Kahlo.
I would say that the main difference between the mixed media paintings of the 1990's and the mixed media collages of the new millennium is that the former is more of a monologue where I come up with my own imagery, while the latter is more of a dialogue between myself and the pictures that are already in existence The process is different. Rather than asking myself what I'm feeling at the moment and gradually picturing the image in my head I now have some idea as to what I feel and intuitively pick out the images I want to use based on this idea and feeling. I then have to adapt my idea to the images at hand so I am in fact restricted to what I find rather than what I am able to imagine or execute in terms of drawing. Nonetheless, it seems to me that I am finding a middle ground between these two approaches.
One of the notable elements of my art is that of dialectics, which I see as underlying the reality as we perceive it. There seem to be constant tension between opposites, and this never ceases to interest and intrigue me. We seek balance and I certainly like to advocate the middle path as a solution in many situations of conflict, but what happens when life is in complete balance? Is it possible?
WHY MUCH OF MY ART IS SYMBOLIC
When I started out as an artist, the way I best felt I could express my views was through the use of universal and personal symbols. I had a desire to make every bit of my art meaningful and my messages quite specific, and so preferred to employ a symbolic language. In an image, the first and foremost mode of expression is the immediate visual impact - it defines whether you want to stay with the picture or not. I do feel, however, that once you feel intrigued by it because it makes sense to you aesthetically, it also needs to carry meaning that you can relate to. This meaning can reveal itself through a conscious analysis, or a more subconscious process. All the elements in the work obtain a semiotic quality when their subjective and objective being-in-the-world are highlighted simultaneously. There are many ways in which we understand art work, but it seems to me that conceptual art often operates on a fairly shallow level of meaning that mainly stems from rational analysis - it may be relevant as a mirror of our time, but it's also one that comes today and is gone tomorrow. It seems to me that symbols have the greatest universal appeal to humans over time. I want to express myself succinctly and symbols present themselves as the best way in which I can do so. Read more about the actual process of making symbolic art HERE. The following is an indepth discussion about the value of symbols.
THE VALUE OF SYMBOLS
You may ask what the point in using symbolism to convey a message through art really is. Those who are familiar with art history know that Symbolism is a movement that started up with the paintings of Gustave Moreau around 1860 but was deemed useless and out of date by the beginning of the First World War. It was a movement that was mainly concerned with the other worldly, and to a surprisingly high degree was linked with Catholicism. Some symbolists were interested in esoteric world views, and wanted to convey these beliefs through their art as has traditionally been done in religious art. These artists felt that the best way of conveying their view of a more spiritual realm was through the use of symbols as it was a way of pointing towards realities that you couldn't otherwise describe. Many artists were, however, not necessarily expressing very complex truths. In simple terms, this artistic genre came about as a reaction against the industrial upswing and a wide spread interest in realistic art as social commentary. The war crushed many idealistic notions and made introspective and solipsist art seem self-indulgent - the art that followed was often socially orientated.
Nothing in art history is, however, straightforward and subject to a strict chronological time line. When it comes to symbolism, it pops up here and there in various forms and for various reasons. In the modern era, artists often use symbols without making much of a point of it. You find it in all genres of art. Various forms of fantasy art are alive and well, and some of these artists of the imagination employ symbols to a very high degree. Almost anyone who is interested in investigating the deeper layers of the human psyche or spiritual visions will use symbols. The problem is that this kind of symbolism is often lacking in personality and originality.
Symbols have always been around in the form of mythology, fairy tales, as well as esoteric and alchemical explorations. These depictions of the human condition and how humans relate to the other worldly have been informative and necessary for the evolution of the human psyche, and there is no reason to believe that this has come to an end. It may seem that cynicism and a fragmentation of spirituality is here to stay, but I don't believe it. Art that expresses such disillusion is not life-affirming and constructive, and is therefore in the long run an unsatisfactory way of dealing with life's deeper issues and the human condition. In the end, the really big questions in life are the ones that live on forever, though our interpretation, experience and way of expressing them evolves over time, becoming more informed and sophisticated.
While the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud paved the way for dream interpretation, his disciple Carl Gustav Jung made a great job in researching the deeper meaning of widely recurring symbols and archetypes. The Depth Psychology that he and others instigated is still inspiring a great many psychotherapists who are interested in the subconscious mind and importance of dreams and archetypes in people's lives. Mythology isn't out dated - it is clear that the human consciousness is constantly creating new myths and ways of story telling that help us come to terms with our lives. While the basic themes remain the same, they are being re-created, no doubt to fit new perspectives and higher levels or orders of collective understanding. I believe that we are constantly aspiring towards higher and more comprehensive levels of comprehension. Though inspired by C G Jung in the past, I am not a Jungian, as I find this strand of psychotherapy somewhat limited to archetypal ideas and dreams. I think a human being is a lot more than just a collection of inner archetypes.
So what are symbols, exactly? According to Wikipedia a symbol is "something that represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning." The way I see it, symbols have levels of meaning. There are symbols that are pretty deep and universal because of our joint collective experience of these elements of life. For instance, a snake represents the other end of evolution, i.e. very primordial or basic instincts and affects. From primordial myths and belief systems we can also see that the meaning is also attached to the universal life force and sexuality. Most people are scared of snakes so in a dream it's usually about feeling threatened by basic instincts such as sexual feelings and related issues.
The same symbols also have a shallow level of meaning which is dictated by cultural meaning and individual experience. A snake may not be threatening to someone who is a snake charmer. Someone who is a Hindu and familiar with theories about the Kundalini force would be more likely to associate the snake with religious beliefs than a Westerner would. Of course, we all know about the "one eyed snake", the male organ, which is yet another reason it tends to be connected to sexuality.
I believe that the best way to learn to understand the language of symbols is by engaging in dream interpretation (you can also study and compare myths). This is no easy task as you have to understand the parts as well as the whole, i.e., how the various elements of the dream (the symbols) relate to one another and what the context of these elements is. You need to reflect upon the associations the symbols offer as well as be able to grasp the overall feel of the dream in an intuitive way. The dream also has to relate to the dreaming person, as one has to distinguish the universal meaning of the symbols from possible individual interpretations. Intuition is truly paramount during this process. The language of symbols is not quite like an ordinary language because it relies so heavily on intuition. You also have to keep in mind, that all the symbols in your dreams associate with aspects of yourself. For instance; familiar people you see in your dreams represent qualities in yourself, and buildings usually (unless you're a gypsy traveller, one would assume) symbolise the different levels of the psyche.
People often say they dreamt about something they saw on TV before going to bed, and this becomes their reason for dismissing the existence of any deeper significance attached to the dream. There's a fallacy in this thinking because you don't dream about something because you saw it on TV, but because what you saw on TV reminded your psyche of something significant that it consequently wanted to resolve through your dream. Nothing in your dream world is haphazard. The key to successful dream interpretation is that you take into account every single aspect of the dream with the understanding that it all makes sense in some deep and significant way. We also tend to remember dreams that really are significant to us, while less important dreams are forgotten. If you're grabbed by a dream, it means it has something to say to you that you may not have realized during waking consciousness. I have personally not found anything terribly revelatory within my own dreams, but that's because I'm very interested in my inner life while I'm awake and so nothing much comes as a surprise. I find that dreams can clarify some issues, though. There is nothing quite like having had a vivid and deeply emotional dream that really tantalizes your imagination, points to great potential, and promotes contemplation about your life situation...
In order to get your imagination going, you might like to consult a book on dream interpretation. Books cannot explain everything for you and it's very important that you choose your book well! A good Jungian style book (E.g. The New Dream Dictionary by Toni Crisp) can give you ideas and impulses, and thus aid the process of understanding the way your psyche functions and what it's communicating to you.
I'm quite a literal person, and I like to communicate in a precise way. Creating images and soundscapes is a personal challenge in this respect. While pictures say more than a thousand words, and this vastness of meaning is sometimes hard for me to embrace, I also like for them to be subject to a rather literal interpretation. I don't see a contradiction in terms here, nor do I have any problem with the fact that some people will prefer to take in my images without the involvement of intellectual analysis. Others will be interested in a semantic interpretation. My experience is that both work just as well, and what really matters in the end is what resonates with people, i.e., what people feel attracted to because it mirrors themselves, and it really doesn't matter whether they are aware of the reasons for this feeling. I expect that people recognize the meaning of the symbols I use either intuitively or directly, and that they strike a cord in the attentive audience because of their relatively universal appeal.
Artistically speaking, I started out by learning the logical language of symbols, and expressing my own inner development and the formation of a world view through symbolic art. I was intensely interested in esoteric view points while I was learning about the basic nature of reality. It was a rewarding time in my life, and I got much positive response from people from all walks of life. But things changed and I started to feel that making art about the tension between the spiritual and mundane was limited. There is work to be done in the realm of our day to day life, and I now feel compelled to do what I can to help alter people's perception of those who are marginalized in society.
Symbols continue to be my preferred way of expression nonetheless. Through symbols I communicate a vision of life and know that it's a visual representation of something that I could also write about if I wanted to. Yet the impact is different and hopefully a more direct way of saying what I want to say. I have recently found that I can also make symbolic sound art. Symbols are endlessly versatile and a visual language based on symbols can be updated to suit a contemporary audience and crucial topics of the modern day.
ARTIST'S STATEMENT: ABSTRACT PHOTOGRAPHY
Historically speaking, the idea of metaphysical imagery stems from Giorgio De Chirio. It was about seeing a reality behind the obvious, perceiving the invisible within the physical realm. It is not really about transcendence. This is very much in line with my own abstract photography and why I sometimes call it "metaphysical".
As someone who was brought up by two professional photographers, I am a keen photographer and find it difficult not to see the world through the lens. The act of discovery is intense; catching a particular expression of one of my cats, making humorous observations of human life, isolating a piece of nature to highlight its aesthetic value, or elevating the ordinary to the level of abstract art is all fascinating to me.
While most choices are self-explanatory, the one regarding abstract photography may not be quite so evident. I think that as someone who values beauty, it's satisfactory to find it in the ordinary.
The act of discovery during one of my photo shoots is intense, and this is especially true of my abstract photography. Interesting patterns and texture can be found in the things that people have thrown away or abandoned. It's my innate love of some of the basic elements of tangible reality – form, texture, colour – that becomes apparent in the compositions I create out of these. I aim to capture what I see and but then create a new whole out of the parts. This is not documentation; it is a process of altering what I've seen through the tools available for photographers to make it into something of heightened reality. Thus the discovery of beauty in the most unlikely places as well as the work that I do to an image after it has been captured are both crucial to the creative process. I hope this will inspire greater attention to the aesthetics that surround us.
The power of observation brings about a mindset apart from the normal attraction to that which is pleasant and beautiful. Paradoxically, by allowing oneself to look where beauty seems absent, one often makes interesting observations that can be transformed through the power of creativity into something intriguing and aesthetically pleasing.
It's through photography that I feel that I can penetrate a veil and see something beyond the mundane.
I believe that one of the purposes of art is to awaken curiosity, and that feeling intrigued by a sense of recognition is fundamental to humans and therefore of the greatest importance. Out of this comes a sense of sharing, which builds bridges and supports us in our lonesome journey on Earth.
In some respects, abstract photography acts as a counterpoint to what I do by hand through mixed media. Finding and capturing what is already out there is different from the more self-focused act of creating a symbolic reality. It is also often the expression of a certain minimalism, which is the opposite of the richness of life that I like to express in my other art. Through these opposite forms of expressions, I seek personal balance.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Talking Art is a quick artist interview. We ask Vivi-Mari Carpelan 5 questions to help you get to know her and her art.
Let our readers know who you are, where you are from and what kind of art you create?
My name is Vivi-Mari Carpelan and I’m originally from Helsinki, Finland, but resident in Wales (UK) since 2010. I’m married to British artist Martin Herbert. I create handmade mixed media collages with symbolic content. Recently I have included a form of performance art by staging myself for photographs that I use in my artwork, enhancing the theatrical aspect of my art. Due to health issues, the amount of drawing I’m able to include in my work has become somewhat restricted.
As a photographer (I come from a family of press photographers), I’m also fascinated with surprisingly aesthetic textures and patterns in our environment – the traces people inadvertently leave behind can become enigmatic signs of hidden meaning and the passing of time.
My main concern is exploring emotional issues of belonging versus not belonging in a society mostly designed for people with wealth and health. My work often expresses paradox, as a fundamental and crucial characteristic of reality. While ill health, misfortunes and alienation are linked with shame and helplessness, these can also give rise to strength of character, deeper insights into matters of life and death, and the advantage of a more objective viewpoint in regards to society at large. I use symbols as a way of pointing to the idea that life is a whole that is greater than its parts. They are meant to inspire intuitive associations and a deeper sense of meaning.
In 2012 I was working on “Project X”, a series of images attempting to make invisible illness more visible. I continue to explore challenging themes, communication and ways of retaining artistic integrity. I also like to express the idea that our reality is multi dimensional, and point to the connection between mind, body, soul and spirit.
What is your favourite piece of art that you have done?
Although I feel a bit nostalgic about some of the drawings/paintings I’ve made in the past, I think it’s one of the latest pieces that is the most exciting to me at this moment in time – it’s called “Xpulsion”. That’s because I feel I was fairly successful in combining my photographs with old engravings from the 19th Century (old images are copyright free, which is important to my practice). The background is one of my abstract photographs. I staged myself and added the photo of myself to the photo of a horse in Photoshop. I also had the photo of an old petrol station, and a photo of my cat Beatrice. I feel that the symbolism works quite well – although everyone is free to make their own associations, the general idea is the feeling of not being able to pump oneself up with energy (symbolised by petrol). The horse is a symbol of energy as well, and the movement forward. In images, a movement towards the right is more dynamic and so the fact the horse is moving towards the left is meant to underline the stagnant situation. My cats are my dear companions in life but they also convey a sense of the good things in life, sensuality and joy. The name “Xpulsion” is a loose reference to the Expulsion from Eden – in this case it’s the sense that one, for whatever reason, is not allowed to enjoy the loveliness of life at this specific moment in time.
Show & Tell us about your workspace and the tools you use. (brushes, charcoal, steel, lasers?)
In the past, I have often ended up on the floor because of needing a lot of space. It’s too heavy on my back though so I have now tried to arrange it so that there is plenty of space on this Ikea table, and that it’s high enough so that I can either stand by it or sit on a bar stool with cushions. I like to surround myself with beautiful and personal things – since I got married this has become my private space. It’s really too small but at least I have one now! It also has two windows overlooking the hills, which convey a sense of peace. In this space, I also enjoy a lot of vibrant colour, as I feel they stimulate my mind. Very often when I work, I burn some good quality Tibetan incense, which also seems to support creativity. The materials I use are basically paper, scanned images, laser prints of my own photographs, glue, coloured inks, American Prisma crayons, some acrylic paint, and some pastels. I also experiment with other media. Both brushes and pens are thus involved. I usually varnish my images. I also use the computer a lot since I have to tweak images in Photoshop and print them out. Although the handmade collages are often flawed, I think they convey more feeling than digital ones.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment, I’m trying to learn how to use Adobe Premiere Elements, a video editing program. So far I have produced a little video of my cats on catnip and am working on an autobiographical one too… it’s practice for the more serious project of putting together a slide show of a series of photographs with the working name “Traces”. Luckily my husband is tech savvy so he shows me whatever I can’t get my head around on my own.
In August 2012, during a stay in Finland, I found a source of interesting abstract texture that was almost inexhaustible. I ended up with a series of almost 100 images that contain layer upon layer of paint on metal, and various signs and symbols that all appear quite enigmatic – I call the series “Traces”. I’m not revealing the source as I want the photos to retain a sense of mystery. Most of the signs are Cyrillic letters, but not all of them – and who knows what it all means? I suffer from a lack of financial means so I’ve been wondering how to present the series – I can’t just go out and buy a large format ink jet printer. I recently decided to make it all into a slide show and I feel that this, if presented in a dark room on a large screen, might hopefully convey intriguing mystery in the best way possible! They should really all be seen together for greater impact, I think.
What is your favourite piece of art from another artist?
My favourite artist of all times is Giorgio de Chirico, the painter who invented metaphysical art. I can relate on a very deep level to the sense of mystery in his earlier work. The deep, sensuous colours, the flawed perspective that makes it all a bit more unreal, and the deep sense of silence with a melancholic flavour, have a profound impact on me. There is often a sense that something is happening far away, but the trains that rush by are like an imprint of the transient nature of reality.
Sometimes a couple of people are engaged in quiet communion that appears very warm and intimate, but on the other hand the figures also often appear very introspective. In fact, it’s all like a state of deep meditation yet present within our dimension, i.e., ‘almost’ in the very reality we live in. There’s a sense of paradox in this which speaks to me, as it points to the idea that the very mundane ‘here and now’ can equal a deeply peaceful and meditative state of being, in which time ceases to exist. To me, this art is more mystical than surreal (de Chirico has been said to be the father of surrealism). There is no one painting that speaks to me above all others, as there are so many with a similar atmosphere.
ARTIST'S STATEMENTS FROM PAST SOLO EXHIBITIONS
THE ART OF BECOMING HUMAN
(Retrospective of Ten Years of Handmade Collages, Milkwood Gallery, Cardiff 2012)
In this exhibition I will be showing as many of my handmade collages as will possibly fit the walls of the lovely Milkwood Gallery. The themes I have been grappling with over the past ten years are mostly emotional, as my attention turned from a more theoretical attitude to life to one that was about living life for real. I was contemplating destiny and expressing feelings of being bound to one that for many reasons I couldn't escape. Ultimately, it was a sense of purpose rather than nihilism, albeit at a price. Life often felt like a kind of sacrifice for the acquisition of greater wisdom and understanding. As always, my images express paradox, as the hard lessons of life usually have a constructive side to them. Learning about emotions is learning how to be more human.
GARLANDS OF FRESHLY CUT TEARS
(First Exhibition in the U.K., 2010)
Due to various challenges, I have experienced the social status of someone that society thinks of as second-rate. All in all, even though the themes may appear dark at times, my images are usually imbued with a desire to overcome adversity. Although I started out by drawing and painting on paper (mixed media, in other words), I resorted to the creation of collages due to physical difficulties. I am fascinated with the interaction between a particular feeling, state of being or social critique that enters my mind and the images that I discover and compile to match these visions. I enjoy the communication that takes place between me and the collective. I also add my own visual elements such as personal photos and drawings. My aim is to present my personal sphere of reference in relation to the rest of the world in symbolic terms, as I find symbols a powerful way of conveying a mixture of thoughts and feelings. My symbolic language is in parts universal, in parts personal. I feel affinity with artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Gustav Klimt, Renée Magritte and Frida Kahlo. I say with Frida Kahlo that although my art may appear surreal, this is not quite true since I actually express my own reality and not a fabricated one.
THE PETRIFIED TREES (2009)
(View photo gallery here)
“As the daughter of two photographers, photography has always played an important role in my life, even though other forms of visual expression have taken the forefront. Thanks to the ease with which I can now process photos, the digital age has inspired a renewed interest in photography. I spent last winter in Kansas, USA, where the harsh weather condition literally took the local habitants by storm. While others huddled together for warmth in their abodes, myself and my adventurous American friend made over 20 trips to a large lake, Clinton Lake. It was surrounded by a difficult terrain that was clearly left to its own devices and seldom visited. Therefore these trips weren't simple strolls in the countryside, but quite hazardous at times. The fact that I was offered the use of a camera of high quality allowed me to capture the endless changes in the unexpected weather conditions and the splendid sunsets on a spot in nature that was anything but pretty in the conventional sense. There are no natural lakes in Kansas, so land has been evacuated to make room for boating and sports in the summer time.
In the large Clinton Lake the trees had been left so that during times of low tide in the winter the dead skeletons of these trees would rise above the water, or, as was often the case during this exceptional winter, the ice. The muddy shores were lined with fossils, unbelievable amounts of knotty trees that had fallen over, and fascinating roots that often appeared quite humorous. At close range, as well as from further afield, this landscape with the ghost trees and the strange balance between natural and artificial was surreal. I hope this unusual environment will offer an interesting visual experience!
TWISTS OF FATE
(Exhibition 2009, Finland)
The exhibition deals with introspection and insights in regard to earlier traumas, as well as love relationships which often carry traits of problems that have not been solved. It’s possible to read the artwork as a story; vulnerability and fear are connected to thoughts about destiny and the wounds that one has been inflicted with during one’s life. The advice other people give often harm more than they help. The quest for love is confusing when you realize that you can’t get all that you need from a partner. Expectations, broken promises and disappointments may however in the best of cases lead to a freedom of the fear of loneliness, liberation and a greater focus on one’s own creativity as a source of satisfaction.
VIBRATIONS FROM THE DIMENSION OF SILENCE
(Exhibition 1998, Finland)
Far away from the humdrum of daily life lies an ancient site, a secret garden where reigns the deepest silence. This is where you can find the most fertile soil, water and all the prerequisites for the greatest splendour one can imagine - however, the warmth and the light is missing! As abandoned and empty as it seems, it is easy to believe that there is nothing to be found in this place. But if one of these days you are able to get loose from the toil and wear of day-to-day obligations and take the long and winding road to this place, then I am sure that you will be abundantly rewarded with floral splendour, birdsong and tasty fruits. Why? Because you are the warmth and the light. It is in the light of your consciousness that the force of life will come to being.
This is my experience of the mysterious being of silence. Silence is the soil of possibilities in which our experiences and intuitive insights are grounded. Our creative power flows out of the dimension of silence in order to manifest itself in symbolic pictures. Our rational mind is able to analyse and use these pictures in order to increase the understanding of our own development. It is from the dimension of silence that our desire to create and our will to live burst forth, all that make us co-creators of the world in which we live in. But how much do we actually use our inner potential? How much confidence do we have in our own creativity? Are we daring enough to clear the brushy path to our secret garden, or do we prefer to live our lives controlled by fear and anxiety only because this is what we are accustomed to? Do we dare to say yes to our inner development, to movement and change, to mental risk taking, to challenges and to our own intuition? Are you brave enough to listen to your inner voice and follow the vibrations to your silent and secretive homestead, and see what there is to be found?
My pictures follow the logic of dreams, where every colour and every detail owns a symbolic meaning in relation to its environment. I hope that they can be enjoyed and experienced as such, intuitively and emotionally, just like dreams and myths, but also rationally through the help of the intellect. Maybe one way of conduct does not necessarily exclude the other? I believe in a balance between polarities, and in a creative use of all the aspects and resources of our mental self!
THE TEARS OF SAMSARA
(Exhibition 1998, Finland)
Tears of sorrow, tears of joy... Tears rejuvenate and cleanse us. Something dies away and leaves space for change. In the dynamic chaos of transformation the creative seed of potentiality is coming into being. From the ground that has become sopping wet and painful, the tender stalk of a new plant is cautiously reaching upwards, always with the same urgent desire to be noticed and taken care of, to receive love, warmth and light. Nothing lives in complete darkness. But without the darkness, the cold and the shadows, the light and the warmth would be meaningless. In the same way it is grief that provides joy with depth and meaning.
In the world views of Hinduism and Buddhism, Samsara is the name of the cycle of life. Life follows death and death follows life. Constant, dynamic change characterizes the inner being of life, and this is something that goes on inside as well as outside of us. But how solid are in actual fact the boundaries between inner and outer, between life and death, between sorrow and happiness? How solid and unchangeable is the one who is residing inside this body and perceiving all this? My experience of life is that the winds of change are blowing right through me, all the time, without interruption. I have no choice but to give them the space they require.
ENCOUNTER ENGENDERS LIFE
(Exhibition 1999, Finland)
When I look out towards the world, the world comes to greet me. The moment I perceive myself in the vast mirror of reality, I come to being. I am able to see myself - my shape, my features, my thoughts, my feelings, and my soul. All this is being born in the interaction between me and my environment, because it is the experience of this constellation that helps me redefine myself. Books, pictures, objects, people... all these things help me see and understand myself. The encounter lends me the mirror. Without this mirror I am not able to grow, change and become whole.
Life is an encounter, a play of opposites, a breathtaking dance where we unite and pull away, in the whirlwind of life, inwards and outwards, in oneness and in separation.... Like the natural flow of breathing or the play of the waves, like the gushing power of creativity from a well of life that never dries up. Do I dare to encounter life? Do I dare to encounter you? With an open gaze and an open mind? Perhaps the answer to the riddle of life is in the open gaze in the mirror that I encounter?
(Exhibition 1997, Finland)
I don't see feeling and intellect as mutually exclusive, but rather as complementary functions. Together with another pair of opposites, the physical and the spiritual, I perceive four central inner aspects that should stand in a balanced relationship to one another.
This idea stands as the basis for one of my life's greatest mysteries, and it is this enigma that I try and express through my life and art, possibly even trying to find some answers to.
The name of this exhibition is “Eve's Eye”, because the main focus of my inner search has been with my life's feminine, more emotional aspects. In my imaginary world, Eve has come to represent the more receptive, introspective and intuitive sides of myself. The eye also points to inner , as well as outer perception. Occasionally, Adam also steps onto the stage, because all that he represents – extrovertion, mental and analytical reasoning – shouldn't be ignored. Even Adam has important challenges to deal with. There are also moments, when both of them come together in harmony. The experience can be painful, but sometimes truly blissful. Finally, there are moments of silence when neither one of them can be seen. Are they about to arrive, or have they already left?