HANCOCK -- The 23rd Annual Contemporary Finnish-American Artist Series Exhibition will feature the work of Christian Narkiewicz-Laine: "The Parable of the Palace" at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from Dec. 5, 2013, to Jan. 11, 2014.
"Ghost Paintings," by Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, 2013. Pyrotechnic Installation. Varied Dimensions, Video Stills. Filmed in High Definition Digital on DVD. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)
An opening reception will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5. Christian Narkiewicz-Laine will present an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Christian Narkiewicz-Laine is one of Finland’s leading conceptual artists and a social and political activist, working in the United States and Europe. His work is often openly critical of the American government’s stance on democracy and human rights, voicing his dissent about war, guns, violence, and the death penalty.
In 2004, he galvanized America’s literary community and published American Poets Against the War, with the contributions of the United States’ most important poets, writers, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur Genius fellows. He has been nominated and has won prestigious prizes for peace and human rights.
Narkiewicz-Laine’s career has included diverse fields including fine arts, curating, architecture, and social and political criticism.
His work is celebrated for its lyricism and stark poetry that transcends the often-commonplace subjects and materials that the artist uses to create his pieces. Although there is a consistency of theme and a common emotional thread to his art, the media that he employs are remarkably varied in scale and substance -- from photography, drawings and tracings to presentations and installations of sound, texts, new materials, and ready-made or found objects.
"Byzantium No. 1, by Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, 2013. 24 percent Lead Crystal Glass with blue Swarovski Crystal Gems. 5 x 5 x 28 inches.
"I believe in the departure of traditional materials in art," notes Narkiewicz-Laine in a monograph about his work titled Praxis. "To me, art in our time is about the use of new materials as a vehicle for expression. I like to experiment with new materials that produce unexpected and innovative outcome."
Narkiewicz-Laine often presents found objects with which he interferes as little as possible, creating new works that investigate ideas of the self and others in their unique time and place.
His work challenges his audience to question their assumptions. With thought-provoking content, non-traditional art processes, ephemeral media that engage our senses -- such as scent, smoke, and sound -- Narkiewicz-Laine makes us think.
"Is it art? I suspect most people don’t understand the artist’s attempt to stray from traditional materials or the use of ephemeral materials in the creation of art," observes Narkiewicz-Laine. "However, I do know that when I present a work of art using materials such as smoke of sound, the audience reacts in a positive way, thinking, I never thought about that or I never saw it in this light. And isn’t that a remarkable way to react? I mean, creating a work of art through a different understanding about what art is or, in fact, challenging the viewer to see something new in an entirely different way. I believe taking the viewer to a place never visited is an important part of the art process."
For this exhibit Narkiewicz-Laine will present new paintings, sculpture, photography, and video.
Narkiewicz-Laine has been the Museum President and CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum since 1988. In 2007 he also became the Director/CEO of The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies based in Dublin, Ireland, and Athens, Greece.
He was educated in architecture at the Université de Strasbourg, France, (1970-1972) and studied archaeology in Athens, Greece, (1972-73). He returned to the United States in 1973 and graduated from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, in 1975.
In the 1990s, he instituted the prestigious International Architecture Awards and The American Architecture Awards and is the chief curator of GOOD DESIGN -- a program originally founded by Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames in Chicago in 1950. In 2010, he established the European Prize for Architecture.
Narkiewicz-Laine has exhibited his artwork in the United States as well as Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, and Scandinavia. He has authored essays and criticisms on architecture, urbanism, and industrial design for numerous American, European, and Japanese publications.
To learn more about Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, visit his Web site.
The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
For more information, call 906-487-7500.