SAMULI HEIMONENWe are the Wolf
I've been following the debate about wolves. It is fascinating how they inspire such great emotions in people. And I admit that I myself am overcome by these emotions every time I remember how vehement people can be in their hostility towards these animals. The wolf brings people out onto an interesting battlefield. The debate is not really just about the animal itself but about people's fears, rights, control, the countryside, the city and, of course, politics. Perhaps this debate is typical of Finns and typical of this age. I believe that the same battlefield will also be tread upon when dealing with a number of other current affairs, from refugees to nuclear power.
I started painting an image with a dark figure emerging from fog. The painting is like a nightmarish portrait. You can't be quite sure what is appearing out of the smoke as my real subject is not the wolf itself, but a mental image of a wolf. I want to explore the ways we perceive the wolf and how we create its images. The animal in my painting is half made of observation and half of our loaded expectations. Then again, this is the way we see the entire world. Our experiences of the world are produced and constructed in our minds. Our senses provide us with information, but this information is always tinted with our expectations, fears and dreams. The reality is a kaleidoscope image emerging from different sources.
The exhibition title, "We are the wolf", can be interpreted in many ways. We are like wolves in the sinister and negative sense that we often use to describe wolves, while at one time or another we all have been outsiders, lonely and hunted. There are several conceptions and allegories of the wolf, which share the idea that the wolf is a threatening and unyielding power. The wolf is a disturbing stain in the margin that the majority of us would like to erase. I wanted to adopt various perspectives from which to observe the wolf, and I reminded myself of the fact that the wolf is also a predator, and the blood should not be washed away.
I was deeply touched by the story about Saint Francis and the wolf in Gubbio. It is a typical symbolic saint legend that involves an animal. The wolf terrorised the town of Gubbio, making the townspeople live in constant fear. Before they had a chance to go out to slaughter the wolf, Saint Francis, who happened to be in Gubbio, offered to act as a peacemaker. Francis met the wolf in the woods and came to an agreement with the animal: the wolf would be fed and in return it would leave the townspeople alone. Calmly, it walked into the town with Francis and kept its promise. The townspeople, too, kept their side of the agreement and gave the wolf as much food as it needed. Peace was restored.
It is obvious that the wolf in the legend stood for something other than the animal itself. Perhaps it referred to some menacing powers within ourselves. Francis built a bridge between the town and the wolf and, against all odds, the wolf kept its promise and stopped terrorising the town. One point in the story interests me in particular: talking to the wolf. It was an insane and idealistic act. Exactly the kind of act we still need to witness. Someone has to build bridges even if the situation looks doomed to fail.
MEETING WITH THE ARTIST at Galleria Heino on 25th October 2015 from 1 pm to 3 pm:
Samuli Heimonen will present his exhibition "We are the Wolf" and discuss his art.
We look forward to seeing you at Galleria Heino!