Ville Löppönen’s Contemplation is being shown at Helsinki Contemporary 28 October–20 November. The exhibition is a direct continuation of his show Ghosts at the Gallery two years ago. Löppönen has delved deeply into the differences and similarities between the icon and the painting, and succeeded in taking his own working process to a new level. Drawing and watercolour painting proved to be purifying things to do when painting was turning into a ritualistic act and the rules bound up with the tradition of icon painting threatened to prevent the artist from making his own painting grow.
For Löppönen painting is prayer. A painting is a dialogue with otherness. For Löppönen otherness is the Holy Trinity, and painting a place for the self-revelation and seeing that make inner growth possible. He seeks to strip his working process of all ritual. The works have to arise out of stillness, dialogue, waiting and listening. By trying to be totally honest with himself, Löppönen gives the painting a chance to attain its full potential.
“Ritual means something that is carried out so as to be something more, or more right or more holy. The problem is that this happens in the wrong direction: not out of empathy, but out of some sort of compensation or satisfying sense of duty. Out of being right, and yet with the wrong motives.”
Löppönen’s works communicate empathy and tenderness to the viewer. He tries to find universal expressions for his works that are not bound up with any symbolic language, but which have an affinity with the everyday. The works grow out of a religious context, make use of its linguistic expressions, and seek to speak of the dynamic movement of love, of divine love on a universal level.
“I want to believe that, regardless of whatever religious or philosophical or ideological interpretation of the world someone adheres to, it is possible to understand the love that sustains life, despite all the shit. Recognizing this is a universal human characteristic within us, and it is why we are here. It can be obscured or it can be made clearer. The clearer it is, the more our life is rooted in empathy.”
In the dialogue carried out in a painting Löppönen experiences a love that leads away from judgement, fear and shame towards empathy and wholeness. It brings out the good and the beautiful, even if the painting’s pictorial subject matter is not always solely beautiful. The finished works embody the dialogue that Löppönen has gone through.
Ville Löppönen (b. 1980) is an artist who was born in Savonlinna. He gained his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki in 2007 and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Orthodox Theology at the University of Eastern Finland. His works have been shown in Europe, North America and Australia. Most recently he has had solo exhibitions at The Bonnafont Gallery, San Francisco (2015) and Mikkeli Art Museum (2015). His portrait of the artist Henry Wuorila-Stenberg won third prize in the Danish Portrait Now! Brewer J.C. Jacobsen’s Portrait Award in 2013.
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