Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kirsi Neuvonen -Printmaker from Finland

Kirsi Neuvonen: The Pomegranate Tree, line etching, aquatint, copy etching. 1996 65x50 cm (25 5/8"x19 5/8")
Kirsi Neuvonen (born 1960) is a Finnish printmaker who has become a household item in my native country.

This blog is a quick introduction to some of her plates and I seriously encourage you to study her website and look further. Her knowledge of art and history is so deep and wide that it will humble you. The website is very informative and generous, -great resource for the intaglio inclined and an injection of inspiration for the rest of us.. Go to http://www.copperfield.fi/ , click on the top right EN and it will lead you to the English pages.

Those of you who are familiar with intaglio printmaking will find this to be solid fodder for the creative mind,...those of you who are fascinated by mythology will be intrigued with the symbolism.... and those of you who are WRITERS will enjoy her TRUTH OR DARE section: THE STORY GALLERY! Kirsi has listed a series of her works and invites you to join in by WRITING POETRY OR SHORT STORIES of her images. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! The images are extremely story provoking, -my head is quickly composing some material as we speak. Look at "My Shadow Thinks Obviously Otherwise"...click on the image and you'll get a larger version of this creepy shadow dude with an attitude. What is going on in here?
WRITE ABOUT IT! I am sure that I will.

A line etching, in very simple terms, starts with a drawing on a metal plate. The artist uses a variety of sharp tools to scratch the surface. The plate is soaked in an acid bath that enhances the area where the metal is exposed. Different technigues are used to achieve various surface textures, the parts of the plate that are not worked are masked to protect them from the acid .
Finally the plate is inked , the excess ink is wiped off and the plate is pulled through a press with sheet of paper laid over the surface. The pressure transfers the image to the paper. Every colour is printed separately. Multiple plates can be used to create one image.
The process is very labour intensive and dangerous at times : you deal with corrosives, sharp objects and toxic vapors. Great skills are achieved only with a lot of experience, practise and hard work. Additional difficulty with this media is that the end result (the print) is always a mirror image of the image on the plate (and the image in your head)! If you don't think this might cause some problems, try this exercize: make a simple drawing of a standing figure. Tilt the hip a little, give the head a 3/4 profile. Hold it up to a mirror and be ready to discover: there is always an element of suprise. A good printmaker has the ability to see ahead and embrace this accidental element of the medium. Definitely not for control freaks.

Important to remember:
We are talking about prints but we don't mean copies. Every print is an original.

Kirsi has made a whole series of dress illustrations. This one is titled Venus Dress" (1994), -a ball gown with ample oceany adornments! I would just LOVE to show up at some fancy function wearing that, -maybe with some seaweed shimmer in my hair!

Please pay attention to the SIZE of the plate: 90x60 cm (35 1/2 x 23 3/4")! Those of you who have ever inked a plate can imagine that the task on hand is gigantuous! There would have been a lot of sweat, maybe even some tears, most certainly praying and swearing involved.

These following six pieces are formed of three separate plates. This one is called " Wild Strawberry Dress". 2001

" Waterlily Dress" 2001

" Lily Dress" 2001

" Daisy Dress" 2001

"Violet Dress"

"Pearly Dress 2001"

To fully appreciate this one you would have to have some background knowledge in Finnish mythology and art history. This one is titled "The Kalevala Dress" and is a playful take on the work of Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931). He was an artist of momentous proportions who deeply influenced our National identity. Mary Gallen-Kallela ( who's dress this is depicting) was his wife.

Growing up in Finland the work of The GREAT A G-K was always at your face, this naturally, -got somewhat sicketating , you finally tuned it all out and developed a selective blindness to it.
(The Canadians have a similar love-hate relationship with Tom Thomson.) Having spent over twenty years away from Finland I was stunned to meet The Great A G-K again. I was instantly whisked back to my childhood. Printmaking. Symbolism. The Art's and Crafts movement was fed to me along with my cereal. As a child I found those dark woodcuts and etchings weird and frightening but also extremely fascinating. And I have loved them ever since.
"Kalevala" is the epic saga of Finland , A G-K illustrated it with a powerful hand. He was not only a accomplished painter but also a experienced printmaker. The man on the horse in the bottom of the etching is a detail of a painting titled KULLERVO TAKES OFF TO WAR (1901) . (Kullervo was an arrogant dude and faced a horrible ending and SO totally deserved it too!)
If you wish to learn more about Akseli Gallen-Kallela go to http://www.ateneum.fi/ . This is the National Gallery of Finland and the permanent home of the illustrations.

Ok, enough of this,
now , back to Kirsi!

"I am a poor little Deer" reads the banner on the top of this plate. It refers, of course, to our darling Frida Kahlo. The piece is titled "Frida Kahlos Hunting Gown" and displays the drama and rootyness of Fridas life and work and the tonque-in-the-cheekyness of Kirsi's sense of humour.

"Leda" is the same Leda that is known to all artist since antiquity. The Greek mythology tell us that Zeus himself, -in shape of a swan..(the capable chap he was), went to visit Ms. Leda here. From that reunion two children (Helen and Polydences) were born. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) painted the painting that this image is a playful take of. Sadly, Leonardo's "Leda and the Swan" got destroyed. It was later recreated by Da Vinci's contempory Cesare Sesto who's claimed to have been familiar with the original piece. And SO WHAT is he wasn't. The story is intriquing, -Leda and Zeus belong to all of us now. Why not craft your own take of the legend?

"Tiny, Decorated Freedom" 1997 Middle plate 20x20cm, side panels 20x10 cm.
Go to ARCHIVES on Kirsi's website and click on 1997, the left side of the screen will display a scroll down list of Kirsi's work from that particular year. There you will find a whole herd of "Divine women", Caryatids. Kirsi created these pieces after studying some frescos in Sienna, Italy. What is remarkable here is the physical SIZE of some of the plates: you find some etchings that measure 180x60 cm ( almost 6 feet in height!) How does one manoeuvre a plate that big?

"A Portrait with a Yes-No Morpho" 1995 20x33 cm , on the archives page 1995 you can see the rest in the series titled Portraits with Fauna.

Please visit Kirsi Neuvonen at http://www.copperfield.fi/ or http://www.kirsineuvonen.fi/ . Go through the archives and your soul will thank you. Click Kirsi Neuvonen>Art Work>Art Work Archives. I hang around there all the time!
In an intaglio influenced FRAME OF MIND,
I remain yours,
Outi ,the Frame Dame

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love these dresses! (Even if his art is sickitating to you at times!)