Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More comments on Hugo Simberg

As I was born and brought up in Finland, Hugo Simberg and some of his work is familiar to me; who wouldn't even in those days have recognized at least Haavoittunut enkeli (The Wounded Angel)? It was painted in 1903 and remained nameless in its first exhibition catalogue as the artist did not want to influence the reception and interpretation of the symbolism of this work which he painted after a long, difficult recovery from meningitis.

As recently as 2006, Haavoittunut enkeli was chosen by popular vote as Maamme Taulu (The National Painting) of Finland and it has also inspired several music videos such as Amaranth, a 2007 music video for the popular Finnish band Nightwish.

Other highly distinctive works that come to mind are Kuoleman puutarhassa (The Garden of Death) and Halla (The Frost) and Piruparka kaksosineen ( Poor Devil with his Twins). Here again Simberg did not simply illustrate some stories, but by personifying death, frost and devil, he created recognizable symbols of unconscious good and evil but enlivened his serious symbolism with macabre humour. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why his images have such a staying power with the viewer.

Leena commenting on Chris' notes about
Hugo Simberg and his work Tonttukuningas nukkuu (King Hobgoblin Sleeping)


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