"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"

- Alan Hogan

Showing posts with label artwork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artwork. Show all posts

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Soft Parade

Sorry, I had planned to write this blogpost earlier, but a few incidents such as entertaining Irish visitors in Finland, an anti-virus meltdown on my computer and a few important barbeques amongst other things got in the way. But anyway, here it is now!

artist Emmi Vartiainen and dj Ville Kotka at Jade Gallery in Helsinki
I didn't want to forget about writing this post for a wonderful art exhibition I attended earlier this month, especially as there's still plenty of time to visit it. The opening of Emmi Vartiainen's exhibition entitled 'Soft' took place at Jade Gallery in Helsinki on Friday 4th May. The exhibition continues until the end of May 2012. 

I had seen some of the artist's work previously through online social media, but I wanted to see more of her creations and view them in person. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about seeing this exhibition as I detected a major influence of Manga art, an eastern art form which I find a little uninteresting and used as a 'street-cool' art for far too long now. But having seen Emmi Vartiainen's artwork I could only feel a slight influence of the manga. On the contrary, I felt there was more influence from the art nouveau style from the late 19th-century. Names such as Klimt and Czech art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha come to mind.
When viewing Vartiainen's work one can't help but feel relaxed. This may be because of mellow colours and a softness to the atmosphere they create. However, there is a touch of the grotesque and macabre in her paintings. It is introduced in a soft manner though, and only adds to each painting's individual appeal. I enjoyed the mix of old school nouveau, street cool modern imagery and subtle decadence.  

Emmi Vartiainen -  inhale

Having looked at all of the art on view at the exhibition I got chatting with dj Ville Kotka who accompanied Emmi's art with a musical mix of tasteful background beats and tunes. I had a pleasant talk with both the artist and the dj about a lot of things including their hometown Lahti, music, history and of course Emmi's art. 
I managed to buy a small print while I was there, which the artist happily signed for me. It was a copy of the main image used for the art exhibition. Here it is below, it's called 'Little Star'.

Emmi Vartiainen - little star

I highly recommend this exhibition if you happen to be visiting Helsinki. If you are on Facebook, you might like to visit the event page here. Or you can find details at the Jade Gallery website here. 

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red Barn Blues!

With the summer a distant memory now, I just wanted to share one of my paintings which reflects summer for me here in Finland. It's a picture of a typical red wooden barn in Finland, with a rapeseed field lingering in front of it. The bright yellow rapeseed fields can be so strong in colour they can only but make you smile!
I usually take a small camera with me whenever I go outside whether in the cities or the countryside. I caught this photograph while passing a field near to village of IngÄ in southern Finland. I was in a moving car, so the quality isn't great. But I knew from the moment I seen it that it would make a nice painting.

Here's the original photograph with my painted impression below it. 

'Red Barn' Original acrylic on stretched-canvas 
for sale from artist, size 50cm x 40cm.
Prints available from, just click on image above.

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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Caravaggio - The Taking and Faking of Christ!

September 29th 1571 is supposedly the birthday of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, better known as simply 'Caravaggio' to most of us. When I was younger living back in Ireland this artist was one of many famous artists mentioned in my art history schoolbook. The Baroque school of painting to which his art belonged wasn't very interesting to me. I suppose I could have been in such awe of the work by the likes of Caravaggio and his counterparts that it made me feel quite primitive. Or perhaps if was the fact that there was so much of this style and it's copycats available to see all over europe. 

One such place I remember seeing art like this was in the old buildings at the school I attended as a teenager. Studying at a Christian Brothers school for boys back in Dublin wasn't always easy. Most of the subjects in these paintings were quite religious and orderly, as were the Christian brothers themselves, whose treatment and teaching methods of many students was disciplined and occasionally harsh. So as you might guess, the day I finished secondary school was a day I remember fondly! I didn't have to see those priests in their black cloaks ever again. I must mention that a few of them were of good character, friendly and excellent teachers. But I was happy to forget about them and all their paraphernalia, including all those religious paintings!

Having left school in 1986, I was more drawn towards modern artists like Munch, Van Gogh, and Jack B Yeats. I liked the honesty and techniques in all their work. I have however since then witnessed a lot more older art including the baroque era by way of travelling through countries such as Germany, Holland, Austria and France. I have sadly not been able to visit Italy yet, the home of baroque. Maybe some day when I have some cash!

Inside St.Charles's Church, Vienna. 

My appreciation for baroque art improved after travelling in europe. I remember a visit to Vienna and been amazed and a little shocked on entering St.Charles's Church. The whole feeling was awesome, a term which I think is used far too lightly these days.

'The Taking of Christ' - Caravaggio, 1602

Getting back to the birthday boy, I remember the time in the early 1990's when Caravaggio's painting 'The Taking of Christ' was found in a dusty old house in Dublin city centre. This was a major discovery once the painting was confirmed as the original, especially with the amount of previous findings which all turned out to be fakes. I couldn't believe the age and the history of this painting. I was more amazed at the fact that it had survived years and years of lying around in Dublin than it's previous centuries of transit here and there around europe. Those of you who live or come from Dublin will understand what I'm talking about! I recall seeing a movie in the year 2000, seven years after Caravaggio's painting was unveiled at the National Gallery of Ireland. It was called 'Ordinary Decent Criminal' starring Kevin Spacey, about a well-known Dublin criminal. It was a poor movie by all accounts (I recommend Brendan Gleeson's portrayal of the same character in the earlier movie 'The General', much better!). However I liked the way they included Caravaggio's painting in the story, it's like modern folklore. 

There are many other blogs, videos and websites which can tell you all about the painting and it's history, so I won't bother rewriting it here. Here's an excellent video to watch if you have the time and a few links if you wish to get all the facts. I've also included a related and amusing  blog which tells about the theft of this painting by professional robbers in the Ukraine. Unfortunately they became the not-so-proud owners of yet another fake Caravaggio.

'Stealing Caravaggio: The Odessa File'

'Milan show for disputed Caravaggio'

I would like to mention my recollection on being one of the first group of visitors to see this rediscovered masterpiece at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. I felt very privileged and excited on that day in November 1993 as I walked into the gallery. Seeing something so old is sometimes a little mind-numbing, and when you learn all about it's history and know the subject to be so revered it can simply leave you speechless.

So, there I was walking up a grand staircase to the gallery's main exhibition room. The red carpet was laid out. I pretended it was for me. Well, one can dream a little!! ...and then as I slowly stepped through the large doorframes I said to myself,...."What the hell is all this!"

Yes, right in front of me was a large room full of fake Caravaggios! I must have counted at least twenty or so copies of Caravaggio's 'Taking of Christ'. 
Well, in my opinion, each and every one of them looked like a masterpiece. But then there can only ever be one true original. And there it was, getting closer and closer to me as I walked through the centre of this large room. The nearer I approached, the clearer my eyes could see that this was the genuine article and the others quickly became just what they were, merely good copies.

The restoration people at the gallery had handled and prepared this great original with the treatment it had long deserved, and it was a great credit to them. 
I was however a bit worried about the security of the painting. While I had in my time visited a few renowned galleries in europe and noticed high security for notable paintings, items such as cameras, extra guards-people, glass-framed boxes and possible laser alarms, all I could see protecting Caravaggio's painting was a thick red rope placed half a metre around it. I could see no harm coming to the painting that day, but I worried a little at the thought of an art teacher taking a class of twelve-year old Dublin schoolboys in to see it. I'd like to think I'm wrong and the painting was highly monitored, but I was that twelve-year old soldier once, and it wasn't unusual for me to lampoon about things I didn't understand. I remember going to see the Mona Lisa in Paris with a group of fellow students when I was twelve. I may be exaggerating just a little, but I reckon that old lady was very lucky to be protected by a solid glass case at the time! 

Anyway, Happy Birthday Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, wherever you may be and thanks for all your wonderful work.

Here's another fellow Dubliner who like myself discovered the mastery of Caravaggio and hence a greater appreciation for art in general. He is ex-world snooker champion Ken Doherty and here's what he had to say about the mighty Caravaggio.

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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Heart in New York

Song: 'A Heart in New York' by Simon & Garfunkel

It’s amazing how many art-related websites are on the world wide web today. With the world economy being the way it is nowadays, it has become ever-increasingly difficult for any artist to sell his or her's original work.
However, there are numerous websites available which allow artists to sell their work as high quality prints. This extra selling service offered by such sites can often be availed for a small annual fee and sometimes for free. Of course the artist only gets a small percentage of any sales, but if enough prints are sold it can add up nicely.
One such site is Fine Art America. It’s an easy site for artists to join and apart from offering a platform to show off artwork, it also allows artists to meet and see the art of other like-minded artists from all around the world.
Since joining Fine Art America and similar sites, I have met a variety of artists from places near and far. Finland, Ireland, England, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Peru and plenty more.
I recently met one such artist online from New York named Erika Love who shared her work with me.

'The Fox'
by Erika Love.
Prismacolor pencil and india ink.

Painting has been part of Erika's life since the age of 7. Oil painting was her main medium for a long time, until the early 1990's when she turned her attention to coloured pencils. This was to be her favorite medium now, and it remains so.

'Summer Morning'
by Erika Love.
Mixed Media, Prismacolor pencil, India ink and acrylic paint

However, while running around with a camera as an inspirational tool in capturing images she accidentally discovered a hidden talent. After several positive comments about her photographs, she decided to give photography a try.
And it certainly proved to be a good move. Erika has worked as a professional photographer in advertising, portrait and event work for the past 15 years. Living in New York, she finds there's plenty of new and interesting subjects to photograph.

'Outside Radio City' by Erika Love.

"I am always looking to try new things, to evolve the work that I'm doing or to just do something completely different. I tend to revisit the same subjects, but I like to think I do it a little bit differently each time."
Erika Love


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The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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