Art Vietnam Gallery, Manzi art space and the Embassy of Finland in Hanoi will open the new works of Maritta Nurmi, in her upcoming solo exhibition “Anima” on November 1 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between the two nations. The Communist Party of Vietnam online newspaper reports.

The works of Finnish artist Maritta Nurmi, Hanoi resident for over 20 years, continually explore the metaphysical and the unknown. The artist continues this challenge with her intellectual probing into the concrete meaning and essence of form and spirit. Depicting animals has long been the domain of artists since the first recorded Paleolithic cave paintings in France and Spain which recent findings have discovered were largely created by women.

The artist’s current works use the animal form in many guises. In this new body of work, Nurmi seems to be questioning the necessity of man to create form, to suggest a bond between human and nature, and the implications of such a need or desire. The artist muses: “Many contemporary artists have chosen to use animals in their work as the ultimate 'other', as metaphor, as reflection.” As she ponders this Nurmi questions whether this need to depict animals is an attempt to understand what it means to be animal or whether it is an expression of our increasing alienation to nature, a loss of this primal connection.

Nurmi was trained as a biologist so this exploration and fascination with the animal world is not a new realm. Her works are at once physical, and yet they seem to yearn to be free from constraint. She questions this apparent human need to have form, boundaries, is it a fear of the limitlessness of eternity, a fear of death, a fear of the unknown?

Accustomed to the northern white light of her native Finland, the artist uses metal leaf extensively in her work to reflect an otherworldly light, an energy source that emits a kind of limitlessness that rebukes and negates boundaries.

The animal figures in the current work are formed from pattern, layer upon layer, colliding and combining in a whimsical animated fashion, producing works humorous on one hand and thought provoking on the other.

Beetles Doo Dung are highly patterned expressions of scarab beetles rolling balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky. As they inch their way along their task, the aluminum leaf surface evokes a sense of stillness and grandeur to their action. A movement beyond the physical world, towards the divine.

The monkey paintings seem to exist and not exist. Formed by using a popular metallic wallpaper, Nurmi seems to suggest their form is superficial, playing once again to the human need to conceptualise form for a sense of security and relevance. The bird series also suggests a sense of existence and non existence, the birds appearing and disappearing as the viewer alters his view.

“Dogs and Roses” and “Dogs and Dots” are the anchors of the exhibition. Unabashedly playful, the colorful patterned surfaces of the dogs with their bright confrontational gaze seem to demand of the viewer a response, a reckoning of this need to conceptualise reality. Do they exist or do they not? Are they mere flights of fancy, or are they real? Is it important to be or not to be?

Anima is will, consciousness, thought, breath, life, and spirit. The question remains with the viewer, a provocation to examine what remains beyond matter, beyond form.

“Anima” will be launched at 6.00 pm. at Manzi art space, 14 Phan Huy Ich street, Hanoi and will be on display till November 30 (everyday from 9 am to midnight).-VNA