Thursday, 7 January 2016

Gothic Art in Spotlight: In a sleep so deep it might be death

Happy and prosperous new year!

Today in Gothic Art in Spotlight I wish to write about an artwork by Finnish sculptor called Mia Hamari. The artist prefers to be called a sculptor but she creates beautiful paintings too. The work I am concentrating to is actually an oil painting on wood with two small wooden sculptures attached to it.

The work is called Valvojat which could be translated as the Supervisors or the Guardians or even as the Overseers. It refers to the idea that when a human is sleeping, spirit entities, like guardian angels for example, are guarding the sleep and that no harm is done to the person sleeping.

This is a very bleak painting. In the museum's info sign it read that the painting depicts "a sleeping boy". I am not sure how eternal that sleep is, if you know what I mean. Even more uncanny is the point of view: the boy looks like he is watched from an adult's viewpoint, while the boy is lying on bare ground. If one looks at the painting straight from the front, that other wooden figure looks like a melted wax candle, you know the kind people used to have in a wake.
Actually, the wooden sculptures are like small protecting totems. The other one at the top corner is shaped to resemble a stuffed toy dog and the other is slightly more ambiguous. It could be a doll or some sort of a toy bear. The face is distorted and a bit creepy. The skin of the boy looks damaged in some places, hinting of violence, and makes this painting ever so disturbing.
The painting is quite large and this painted little boy is as tall as a living 7-year-old. Or at least I thought so at the time I saw it, I have no idea how tall an average 7-year-old is. It was an impressive painting in the Oulu Museum of Art. This artwork was made during the years 2009 and 2010. The artist's own son was the model for this boy.

This ominous sleep the boy is in reminds me of old shamanism and pagan religions that were flourishing in the woods of my homeland centuries and centuries before the actual state of Finland. Shamans would often get themselves into trance to travel to the lands of dreams and even death to seek knowledge and help from various spirits.

Thanks for reading, and do tell in the comments what you think of this little boy!

15 comments:

  1. Very interesting art piece and critique. I love how you refer to you home land and the tradition customs

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  2. Amazing piece of art! I especially love the monochrome colors and the perspective. It really does give the impression that he is watched over by someone of an adult size. Very creepy!

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    1. Yes, creepy yet interesting! :) Thank you for commenting, it is really nice to know what others think of the art I feature here!

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  3. Not something I'd like hanging in my house - it's definitely disturbing! I'm pretty sure it would give me bad dreams. :)

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    1. Isn't good art always something a little unsettling? :D

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    2. Oh, absolutely! I guess I can stand some types of unsettling more than others. :)

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  4. Great review! I agree with The Insomniac, I wouldn' t want it in my house! So eerie!

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  5. Certainly one of those sad yet beautiful pieces... Especially if the boy was a loved one.

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    1. Sad and beautiful is a powerful combination. :)

      I do hope the child in real life is quite alright. :) He has been a model for many of Hamari's paintings and I believe they are not autobiographical nor is there connection to their personal lives.

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  6. I think the perspective of this is really strange. I can't tell if i'm looking down on him or he's rising above

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    1. That is true! Especially since the surroundings give no indication to either way. :)

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  7. This is another great piece of art you found and I also see why he looks like sleeping eternally, wondering what the artist wanted to show when he used his living son as inspiration?!

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