Finnish artist Mari Rantanen in her studio. Rantanen's exhibit Distance/Absence opens Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)
HANCOCK -- Finnish artist Mari Rantanen’s exhibit titled Distance/Absence will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 22, 2016.
An opening reception at the gallery will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, with an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Luminous, bold, colorful and poetic, Mari Rantanen’s large-scale paintings reflect life and culture. Her art is rooted in her interest in architecture, the places people build for themselves, and the life lived in those structures. Her goal is to make the visible more visible and to give form and color to that which is not visible. Her exploration of the history and presence of visual culture, of systems and patterns both seen and unseen and the interpretation of cultural experience fill her paintings with emotional resonance.
Distance-absence #6, by Mari Rantanen. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)
"Through the painting process I want to create surfaces that express the more positive side of life, hope and joy, surfaces that are sensual," says Rantanen. "I want to capture the light and give body to humanity and energy. I want to paint the psychological and physical experience that comes about when something is there and is not there at the same time."
Interested in the different systems and structures that humans create for themselves, Rantanen explores the relationship between order and chaos.
"I want to organize chaos and to disturb order in my work," notes Rantanen. "I have a desire to say many things at the same time. What really matters is how well I can combine the languages of the painting and juxtapose them. It reflects our pluralist culture. There is no one truth anymore. Instead there are many parallel and layered truths. I want to make paintings that tell a story, have a narrative."
Scandinavian concretism has had a deep impact on Rantanen’s work as has American abstract geometric painting, including the early minimalist works of Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly.
"My work is a meeting ground for the intellectual thinking process and my emotional attitude towards it," says Rantanen. "The completed work has to satisfy both my intellectual and emotional needs."
Rantanen attended the School of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland, and Pratt Institute in New York City and served as Professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm from 1996-2005. She has had numerous solo exhibits throughout Scandinavia, Europe and the United States and is in the collections of notable institutions including the Kaisma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, the State of Finland and numerous municipal and corporate collections.
She has been commissioned to create large-scale public works and she has received awards for excellence including the Honorary Prize of Paul Hedqvist Foundation, Sweden in 2012.
Rantanen now lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden, New York City and Tammela, Finland.
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. For more information, call 906-487-7500.