Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hugo Simberg - discovering Finnish artists

This morning I'm writing a note of condolences to a friend who lost her father. The visual image on the front of the card is King Hobgoblin Sleeping 1896 - Tonttukuninga Nukkuu. The card has a haunting quality to it - a tonttu covered in a white shroud with a rodent curled around his head, his cap and other pieces off to the side. In the background are hundreds, if not thousands of smaller tonttus (can I say that since I don't know the plural of tonttu) most of their heads resting on their chests expect for a few whose beards you can glimpse. I do not know the story behind the card but it is haunting.

Hugo Simberg 1873-1917 has a spooky eerie quality to his work. When I looked it up I find that "symbolism is a 19th-century movement in which art became infused with exaggerated sensitivity and a spooky mysticism. It was a continuation of the Romantic tradition..... the Symbolists mined mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul. More a philosophical approach than an actual style of art, they influenced their contemporaries in the Art Nouveau movement and Les Nabis."

Much of his work reminds me of the boogie man my grandparents told me lived in the closet. And much of his work reminds me of our darker selves that surface every now and then. This site has several links where you can explore this artist further.

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