Interview with artist Jukka Nopsanen -
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am Jukka Nopsanen, a Finnish artist and a portrait painter. I have also been working as a teacher of drawing and painting at Aalto University in Helsinki for more than thirty years
2. Why art?
Art has always played a central role in my life since I was born to a family of artists. Thus my very first inspiration was the art I saw at home as a child. Later on I have been inspired by all the beauty everywhere around us. Art has kind of become my mirror which I reflect my surroundings, nature and human being through. I see art as an important tool in self-analysis too .
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
It must have been the moment I saw my father painting something and realised that one can give form to a fancied thing. I have been drawing and painting since my first years as a child and I followed my father´s work very carefully and I always admired his skill to use a brush and colour for expressing form. That was so magical.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
I am interested in nature and animals. I try to depict the relationship between man and nature and take stand for wild nature. Fantasy and imagination are my way to see things happen. From smallest still life to visions of space fascinate me.
The only media I use is traditional oil painting.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
The subjects appear in my mind usually when I work with some painting or when I work with something else. Anywhere, anytime, they can emerge, for example, when I am walking in woods. I work all the time. The subject can grow up in my subconscious for a long time and then I start sketching and painting it.
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
There are so many. The Nightwatch by Rembrandt, Mona Lisa and others by Leonardo da Vinci, to mention a few. Artists like Raphael, Giotto, Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, Giovanni Bellini.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
In my last exhibition a man walked slowly beside the paintings. Then he stood a long time before one work, `Revelation´. When I approached him he hardly could speak being so touched having tears in his eyes. It was a moment to remember.
8. What do you like about your work?
The freedom. Nobody can tell me what and when to do something. Of course I have to paint commissioned portraits and then there are constraints of time and the subject.
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Just follow your inner voice.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
In five or so years I hope that I can create those not yet created works which I have been dreaming about. They will be better, more mature and they will tell about beauty and nature. Now when I am free from teaching duties I can focus on my passion, painting. There are new media and we do not know how art will advance but I believe painting will have its significance.
Global warming, the contamination of the environment and the damaging influence of the human being on nature are significant themes in my art. I consider the people acting like they do to be the result of greediness which in turn results from people abandoning their moral values. If we are only thinking materialistically we will deprive and destroy the nature around us. Science researches substances, space, time and life itself but also art is examining and observing our everyday life, the wonders we experience, our dreams, beauty, the nature. Only art among everything else we find sacred has been able to create pictures through the ages. What I have always been seeking for is to bring together what is known by science and what is understood in art.
Beauty is as important as nourishment for us. Today we live in an ugly environment polluted by cars and we are constantly surrounded by both visual and mental dirt. We neither respect each other nor earth, watersheds, animals or plants. One of my works called “No more fish?” can we all parents see as a question from our children; what kind of a world are we going to leave after us? By means of art we could even try to find solutions and on the other hand see all the miracles we live with.
In my newest pieces of work I have tried to deal with beauty, sublimity and the importance of a miracle. This inner fight of a man probably arises in my work called “The Wall”. I feel like fighting against heavy odds when bringing out these questions. My work “Entropy” represents the direction of time and the decreasing order. Time and substance and the time’s direction are all miracles. A polar bear cub comes to a new world wondering where its familiar world has disappeared. The works called “The Revelation” reflect our yearning for spirituality.
By means of art I have wanted to demonstrate and sometimes underline that we live in the midst of miracles! Beauty or sublimity is not a fashionable subject. I believe, however, that we all long for a deep, sensitive, a bit of mystical life. I have also always trusted on the capability of the nature to repair itself though in my work “The Entropy” I describe my fear of the direction of time and reducing order. On the other hand, the mosaic surfaces in my works represent continuous move both colour and nature and life.
I am not supposing that art would solve any problems but from an individual point of view it can mean a lot. On the other hand, that’s exactly the reason why the reciprocal alliance of spirituality and science could be the key to the problem of the whole mankind. — Jukka Nopsanen