I must write at least one blog today, the last day of August, if only to make a gesture towards the long gap since I last posted. What has happened to August I don’t know but during it I have seen a great deal of art. Indeed so much, in the form of exhibitions, that I have already forgotten some of them; so here I am not trying to be all-inclusive.
Undoubtedly the outstanding exhibition among those I have seen was ‘Silent Beauty’ in the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland:
Essentially, the exhibition explored and illustrated connections and echoes between Scandinavian and Japanese art in the 20th century. In its own words:
One special interest is:
Here are some of the paintings, beginning with a stunning one which confronts you down the length of the first gallery as you enter:
‘Sea and Empty Opening’ 1962 oil RuneJansson 1918-2074
Scandinavian art could be very conventional in West European terms, in both subject and style:
‘Harvest Landscape’ oil Carl Kylberg 1878-1952
It began to treat mundane subjects, sometimes impressionistically, rather than only romantic or impressive views:
‘The Island’ oil 1910-11 Einar Ilmoni 1880-1946
It ventured into non-conventional materials:
‘Frosty Morning’ rya wool 1978 Maija Lavonen 1831-
(incidentally not a million miles in effect from my recent experiments with sheep hoofprints on textile material – see earlier blogs in 2019).
‘Winter Landscape from Sotkano’ oil 1949 Aimo Kanerva 1909-1991
‘Painting’ acrylic 1966 Ahti Lavonen 1928-1970
‘Large Painting’ oil and tempora 1960 Jaakko Sievanen
‘Burning the Brushwood’ 1891 oil Eero Jarnefelt
It seems I have known this painting for a very long time. It was used by Prof Grahame Clark to illustrate slash and burn agriculture, as practiced in the Mesolithic, in his pioneering study of Prehistoric Europe: the economic basis (1952), one of the first archaeological books I read. The actual purpose of the painting, socio-political rather than anthropological, is clearly indicated by its alternative title, ‘Under the yoke’.
A stimulating and memorable exhibition……..