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Indepth Arts News:

"Hugo Simberg"
2000-02-25 until 2000-05-28
Museum of Finnish Art, Ateneum
Helsinki, , FI Finland

Ateneum's main exhibition in 2000 presents the production of Hugo Simberg (1873-1917), one of the most important Finnish symbolists at the end of the 19th century. The exhibiton is based on an extensive survey of Simberg's production, carried out by Ateneum.

Hugo Simberg was an artist, who was not interested in painting ordinary pictures of everyday subjects. More important for him was to depict something that would live on in the mind and keep a hold on the person, opening doors to another reality. For Simberg, art was
the ability to transport oneself from the midst of a cold winter to a lovely summer's morning and sense it all, feel how nature awakens and your own harmony in tune with it. That is what I require from a work of art. It must say something and say it so loud that it carries us away.

Hugo Simberg's life took him from his birth place, Hamina, to Viborg, where he went to school and from there he moved to Helsinki to study art. He spent his summers and also other parts of the year on the family estate Niemenlautta in Säkkijärvi. As was customary for the time, his studies took him to London, Paris and Italy, but the most significant stage in his development as an artist was when he studied under Akseli Gallen-Kallela in the peaceful wilderness of Ruovesi.

Hugo Simberg's art was closely linked to the symbolism of the period. The carefree poor devil and gentle death entered into his works from beyond the realm of the mundane like the King Hobgoblins and Fairy Tales. No shiny oil paintings or decorative gilded frames:

Only love makes works of art genuine and proper. If love is lacking when the birth pains begin, the child will prove to be an unhappy one.

Although Hugo Simberg died over 80 years ago, his works have never before been displayed in such an extensive exhibition. Alongside Death, the Devil, Frost, Autumn and the Wounded Angel, are depictions of the common folk, portraits, self-portraits and his extensive output of graphic art. Landscapes are repeated throughout his work: the moment of dusk as the moon rises, windy open lakes and sailing boats on the horizon.

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