Sunday, March 2, 2014

Latest Obsessions

One of my best, life long friends and I are planing a collaborative show in July. My latest obsessions have been ancient cultures, mythology.... Norse mythology....  Skyrim... the History channel show Vikings.... Ancient British Isles history.... Tolkien....  My artist friend Danny Samppala is Finnish so I am exploring Finnish rune singers and the Kalevala. The Kalevala is the Finnish National epic poem that was largely handed down through centuries orally by rune singers who memorized the stories. It was finally published in 1835.  I'd love to incorporate some essence of this in our collaborations. In my searches I found these beauties and thought I'd share:

Akseli Gallen-Kallela  "Forging the Sampo" 1893
Smith Ilmarinen is forging the magical artifact called Sampo which would bring good fortune to its owner and is a centerpiece in many of Kalevala's stories.

Harald Oskar Sohlberg "Natt" 1904

Akseli Gallen-Kallela "Kullervo Departs for the War" 1901  

They story of Kullervo is a fascinating one and was studied by JRR Tolkien. We even see deliberate similarities with his stories of Túrin Turambar in his  "Turambar and the Foalókë" or in the posthumously published and edited by his son Christopher Tolkien, "Children of Hurin".
"The germ of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala. It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion)"
― J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 257, 16th of July 1964 
Akseli Gallen-Kallela "The Defense of the Sampo" 1901

The scene depicted is taken from the 43rd song of the epic, where the hero Väinämöinen,
shown wielding a sword, has stolen the precious artifact the Sampo from the evil witch Louhi who is seen attempting to reclaim it. The battle for the Sampo is also given a deeper connotation as a battle for the soul of Finland.
Harald Oskar Sohlberg "Winter's Night in Rondane" 1914

 Akseli Gallen-Kallela  "Aino Myth, Triptych" 1891

Depicts a scene from the Kalevala where Aino Joukahainen's sister, is promised to the old and wise Väinämöinen in marriage after Joukahainen lost a magic singing match against Väinämöinen. Aino instead decides to drown herself.

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