Monday, 27 August 2012

Oh yes: Jan Olof Mallander on Inari Krohn

'The graphic arts in postwar Finland do not present themselves to my memory as one vast exhibition of hundreds of prints remembered in the smallest detail. Rather a stream of visions and impressions flows past my mind's eye, then subsides into oblivion. The images share certain fundamental characteristics of all Finnish prints – at least until the mid 1960s. At that time Finnish art, including graphic art, rapidly passed through several phrases of development, opening up to the world outside.

Indeed 'darkness' seems to lie at the very root of Finnish graphic art. Nature is the dictionary of printmaking from which the artists take their vocabulary. The lines and shapes in graphic art, its feeling for light and shadow, derive more or less directly from the landscape. Forests and fields, hills and individual trees tend to dominate the picture surface, while bushes and twigs, flowers and moss are models of linguistic expression. A sounds basis for the artist's graphic idiom is provided by immersion in the natural phenomena; then, dramatic relief is provided by snow.

The seasons are all-important to this idiom. Late Autumn and early Spring seem especially propitious to graphic activity. Many prints have come about during the long Autumn evenings or in the first days of Spring. This is when the fundamental forms and structures of the Finnish landscape can be seen most clearly. Many Finnish printmakers use these to conjure up a cosmic sense of their home region. Their images contain genuinely Finnish emotions. 

In contemporary Finnish graphic art Krohn is a unique phenomenon. From the beginning of her artistic career in 1969, she has doggedly pursued her own course. No other artist placed such a strong emphasis on nature. By the late 90s, Krohn seemed very much in tune with the times again. Gone were the grand utopia, the dream of social solidarity, the illusion of continued growth. Nature is back in the limelight – more than ever, as we have become increasingly conscious of the threats facing it, the very foundation of our life on earth.'  

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