"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 culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2015

Two Landscapes and a Council of Trees!

Here's two paintings I made a few years ago.

'Sophia's Landscape'

The first here is called 'Sophia's Landscape' and it shows a typical summer scene from western Finland. This particular painting was from a photograph taken near the town of Nivala in the province of Oulu. The original painting is now owned by a private art collector in Helsinki.

This original photo from Nivala/Finland
was inspiration for 'Sophia's Landscape'

'Fourteen Angry Trees'

The second painting is made up of four individual frames each sized 70cm x 50cm. I decided to call it 'Fourteen Angry Trees', but I might be willing to change the title if anyone has a better suggestion. It depicts an imaginary landscape behind fourteen distressed and bitter-looking trees with a lot on their 'mind'. To achieve the image above I photographed the four original paintings and joined them together using image-editing software on my computer. The original painting or tetraptych (size 70cm x 200cm) can be seen in the video below.


Prints of 'Sophia's Landscape' are available here!

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- Alan 


Friday, November 29, 2013

Pikkujoulu! Party time!

Pikkujoulu begins this weekend here in Finland. This date on the calendar always confuses me. Correctly translated from Finnish to English, Pikku joulu means Little Christmas. For swedish-speaking Finns it translates as Lilla Jul. But when the word Pikkujoulu is mentioned in Finland it usually refers to Christmas Party-time, and more so by Finnish speakers. It's time for groups, companies, friends and colleagues to hold their Christmas parties! 
The reason I get confused is because back in my old country Ireland, we also have Little Christmas or 'Nollaig Bheag' as it's called in Irish. But it is celebrated after Christmas on January 6th. I always remember it occurring just before the end of the Christmas school holidays. My parents used to meet up with friends at the local bar and invite them back to our house afterwards for some food, a few drinks and sometimes a sing-song! 

The fact that there's no term for the Irish equivalent of Pikkujoulu does not mean to say that Irish people don't have their own version of it before Christmas. Indeed, the festivities are very similiar to Finland with non-stop company parties and all other gatherings throughout the whole month of December. Because of their popularity and the difficulty in finding or booking a venue, some Christmas parties can often begin as early as the first week in November!

One of my favourite days while living back in Ireland was the last day of work before breaking up for Christmas holidays. It was a day of very little work and more about drinking coffee and eating as many of the boss' chocolates as possible! And all this while been presented with bottles of whiskey from customer reps and suppliers, and not to mention the Christmas bonus!! 
After all that it was straight to the pub at 12.00 for a free bar and finger-food (I imagine these pleasures have been trimmed back a little since the bank crisis a few years ago)
Having left work-colleagues at the pub in the afternoon during the usual half-drunken rendition of either 'You've lost that lovin' feelin'!' by The Righteous Brothers or 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues, I usually headed into Dublin city centre to meet up with my own friends. This is the best time to be in Dublin or any other city in Ireland, as the atmosphere is really warm and friendly. As an Irish person I would go so far to say it's better than St.Patrick's Day (unless it happens on Christmas Eve Dec 24th when most city pubs close at 9pm! ...that's a bummer!!)

Happy 10th Birthday Fake Argos Christmas Tree!!

Anyway I'm all set for Pikkujoulu here in Finland. I've dragged my old fake Christmas tree out from storage and the lights are up. I can't believe that the same lights which came with this tree are still working! I must admit I hate untangling any sort of Christmas lights. I think I'm gonna add it on to my Love/Hate list on facebook (you can follow it on my Facebook page here)

Christmas Lights!!! :)

It's a momentous year as my tree celebrates it's 10th birthday! I bought my tree from the Argos store in Dublin while living in Ireland and it has served me well every year since. I like to look at it as been ten real trees I have kept alive. Although I confess, I have cut one down for someone else as a favour while in Finland.


"Happy Pikkujoulu!!!"

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- Alan 

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eyes without a face

Okay, so this blogpost has nothing to do with Billy Idol's hit song of the 1980's 'Eyes without a face', but hey it's a catchy title, so it might attract a few new readers to my blog via taglines!

What my blog is about is this....

Last June I posted a request for photos featuring peoples' eyes on my own Facebook page and a few other pages. I didn't get a lot of offers, but received enough for what I required. Firstly I want to thank those who helped me out, especially those of you from the IESAF Facebook group (International English Speakers Association of Finland). 
The photos I received where used to complete a series of four paintings which are to be exhibited by myself at the Stoa Culture centre in Helsinki this September and October 2013. It is part of a themed art exhibition called Reflections/Heijastuksia being held by the HIAA (Helsinki International Artists Association). There are 14 other visual artists participating alongside me at this exhibition which holds it's opening night this Tuesday, 24th September at 18.00-20.00. All of you are welcome to come and join myself and the other artists as we celebrate the association's 5th anniversary! The exhibition will run until 13th October 2013. For anyone using Facebook, an event page has been created here.

Here's a short video I put together showing the four paintings I will be including as part of the exhibition. 
The eye being an instrument of reflection can determine opinion and an individuals judgement of what it sees. One person's reflection of a vision is a separate account and will usually differ through analysis to that of another person. Such is my interpretation and approach to this exhibition theme of Reflections.

I hoped you liked my little video and hopefully you can make it to the exhibition. 
My apologies to any Billy Idol fans who may have stumbled on to my blog, here's that song you wanted to hear!

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, February 21, 2013

Out from the winter duvet!

Hogan's Blog is back from yet another winter pause. These pauses have become regular and probably occur because of the weather. Up here in Finland the dark winters can affect one's motivation to do anything, especially during long periods of cloud cover. And this winter we've had a lot of it, in fact it's been exceptional. In the southern area of Finland where I live only 50 hours of sun has managed to get through the clouds since the beginning of December. It's been quite depressing to say the least.  In fact, it reminds me of the endless summer days of rain I often experienced while growing up in Ireland. Yes, it's that depressing! ... (this is why there are so many good pubs in Ireland!) 

The lack of sunlight here this winter has been the lowest for the last 25 years. With the absence of leaves added to snow coverage everywhere and endless grey skies you might think you've been transformed into a dog. Everything looks so grey! 

Fortunately the weather seems to be getting better this week though, even if it is still freezing cold. The huge duvet-like cloud cover has been gradually falling away and the wonderful colour blue has entered our lives once again. Occasionally the snow gains a light yellowish glow which brings to mind the return of some much appreciated sun. I haven't seen the actual sun yet, only it's light hitting against some buildings and treetops. But it's on it's way slowly along with blue skies and scenes just like the ones in the video below. Yes, believe it or not it does get this nice in Finland!

On another good note, I went to visit the annual Snow day-out on Sunday February 17thin the nearby town of Ekenäs/Tammisaari (it's a bi-lingual town, hence the two names in Swedish and Finnish). The main attraction at this event are the snow sculptures. While held on a frozen beach with dull weather and cold temperatures, the spirit of the locals is upbeat and a fun atmosphere is always present. Despite the longer timespan of darkness this year was no exception. Smiles, laughter and chatting could be found everywhere. I managed to take a few photos of the day with my camera, and later needed to fix the contrast on them because of the weather. Here's are my photos with a video I made comprising of images from both the 2012 and 2013 events below.

You may have noticed from the video above the difference in the weather between 2012 and 2013. It can make a difference to have a big blue sky instead of the monotones from the snow and clouds. Luckily the people at this event bring enough colour and cheer of their own every year to make it a success no matter what and a fun day out for all the family. If you liked this you can read all about what happened in 2010 on one of my previous blogposts called 'There's no art like snow art!'

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Speak to Me! - Art Exhibition in Helsinki

Last Tuesday November 20th I went to the opening of an art exhibition called 'Speak to Me!' (or 'Puhu Minulle!' in Finnish). The event was held by the HIAA (Helsinki International Artists' Association) and it's members come from various countries worldwide including Finland. All of the members live in Helsinki or close by. Preparation for the exhibition began last June with a meet-up to view the gallery venue and to also meet the other participating artists.

Preparations for the Annual HIAA Art Exhibition at the Kanneltalo, Helsinki.

As a member I had the privilege of having my work displayed alongside works from a group of amazing and very talented artists. The artists I'm referring to are Paul Takahashi, Outi Debnam, David Flood, Elise Gegauff, Connie Heik-Jokinen, Hong Liu-Sertti, Kirsi-Marja Moberg, Semra Türkmen, Kenan Türkmen, Susan Wilander, Victor X and Emine Özdemir. The turnout for the opening was impressive and very encouraging, with plenty of interested and curious visitors. A special thank you is owed to all those who attended.

The 'Speak to Me!' exhibition continues until December 8th 2012 at the Kanneltalo Cultural Centre in Helsinki, Finland. 
Here's one of the six paintings I have on display during this exhibition. It's called 'Connections'. All of my paintings at the exhibition are currently for sale if anyone is looking for a special Christmas gift. Also, if you're quick I left some free Christmas cards next to my work for anyone visiting the gallery.

'Connections' - Alan Hogan, 2012
Some more of my paintings can be seen in the lobby gallery area.

Some of the participating HIAA member artists at the Kanneltalo exhibition:
(left to right) Semra Türkmen, Hong Liu-Sertti, Susan Wilander and Alan Hogan. 

Elise Gegauff was one of the artists present at the opening and she made this short video while she was there which included some of her paintings and one or two of mine amongst others.


Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. You can find out more about the HIAA on it's website here and opening times for the exhibition can be found on the venue's website here . Also, thanks to Elise Gegauff for her video and I have to plug her blog here now, so why not check it out! 'Elise's World'

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.


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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Helsinki Artoteque celebrates 17 years!

Last weekend I was invited to birthday celebrations held at an art gallery in Helsinki. But this wasn't just any art gallery, this particular gallery was called Artoteque, or Taidelainaamo in Finnish. 

This gallery is situated on Rikhardinkatu, only a five minute walk from the main Esplanade walkway, right in the heart of Helsinki. The gallery is part of the Rikhardinkatu library, a fine old building also worth a visit.

The street entrance to Artoteque (left) which is situated only a few steps away from the main entrance to Rikhardinkatu Library (right). 

On this occasion I was greeted with a nice cup of coffee and some biscuits served to me by the lovely Eeva Muona, manager of the Rikhardinkatu Artoteque. On this day they were celebrating 17 years since the gallery was established back in 1995.  The Artoteque displays works of art by members of the Helsinki Artists' Association, which comprise of over 700 professional artists. The selection of art works include 3000 paintings, drawings, graphics, sculptures and photographs. I must mention and say a special thank you to Riitta, a friendly and informative lady working at the gallery who talked to me during my visit. The Artoteque is open every Tuesday to Friday,12.00-18.00 and Saturday/Sunday, 12.00-16.00.

The main collection and reception area at the Artoteque in Helsinki.

The concept of the Artoteque allows members of the public to come and view art from a selection of Helsinki's best professional artists. If interested they have the option to buy or rent the artworks available. Customers can also be private persons, corporations or organisations. The idea of paying for a piece of art through installments is quite refreshing for me as an artist. I realise that purchasing a piece of art can sometimes be expensive, so I think it's good to have such a set-up in place. It makes art more accessible to those who really desire a certain work but can't afford the full cost immediately. It may also suit those looking to purchase from a notable artist as an investment.

I can't imagine this arrangement would work everywhere however. I guess a high level of trust and respect must be adhered to between the customer and the seller for it to work smoothly. But then, trust is taken very seriously here in Finland, so it doesn't seem to come into the equation too often. There are a few similar artoteques to this in other cities and towns around Finland, but I have been informed that the Rikhardinkatu Artoteque has the largest selection of artists and artworks to choose from in Finland.

My own impression from my visit last weekend was one of inspiration and ideas. I found the variety of styles, colours and techniques that surrounded me truthfully inspiring. I am always seeking to adapt new ideas and techniques to progress my own art, and I wasn't short here! Also, in commercial matters I have only ever sold my art in one single payment, whether it be selling locally or to someone on the other side of the world. Having said this, if I suddenly receive any interests from clients in Finland enquiring about either renting or buying my work through installments I would certainly consider it.

To sell your art at Artoteque you must be a member of Helsinki Artists Association. Which is why I paused with the thought of joining this association. But the fact is that I would need to be a resident of Helsinki to qualify for membership to both the association and the gallery. Nevermind, I took with me back to my home in Karis a bucketful of thoughts and plenty of ideas for my own artwork.

This little anniversary celebration was filmed by YLE, the Finnish national television broadcaster, which you can check out here at 05.50 on this link. YLE news
The footage is of course in Finnish, but you can see some of the wonderful art and layout of the gallery. And you have the bonus of watching me looking like I know something about art. Don't blink now or you'll miss me!!!

Happy Birthday Artoteque!

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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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- Alan 


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The Art Garage, Finland

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