Parco dei Mostri / Second act, 15.4.-14.5.2023 Gallery Heino, Helsinki


Artist Bo Haglund’s exhibition focuses on paintings from his latest series Parco dei Mostri (Park of the Monsters). After spending two months at a residency in Mazzano Romano, Italy, in spring 2022, he began painting works influenced by Renaissance art, in which he painted as if digging into Italian soil with Renaissance garden architecture and portraits in the museums of Florence as his tools.

Dating back to the Renaissance era, the garden art in Parco dei Mostri in the town of Bomarzo in the province of Viterbo sets the scene for the roles starring in Haglund’s paintings, twinkling eyes peering out from behind the leaves of bushes. Bo Haglund’s depiction of the eyes was inspired among other things by the gazes of the figures in Agnolo Bronzino’s (1503-1572) portraits.

The works are again gouache and ink on paper. Bo Haglund thinks these are the most natural tools, allowing him the freedom to express himself intuitively. They offer him a chance to delve into the details and play with ornamental patterns and delectably shimmering colours. This can be seen in the endlessly rich variation in paintings reiterating the same theme. This rich medley of details and colours so typical for him seems to flow uncontrollably over the edges of the painting.

The eyes making contact with the viewer are as if ghosts from the twilight of history. Bo Haglund also experiences them first hand. He wanted to consider the themes of a male identity, slender, stereotype models of men already when he created the anti-heroic cartoon figure Kantopää. Likewise now, he feels that the eyes watching in the Parco dei Mostri series of paintings are men’s eyes. For various reasons, the men are now shielded by the foliage.

The limestone entrance and steps serve as a stage. The paintings have a dash of humour with the head hiding in the bushes – but the bare legs have been left disregarded in the bushes – visible, as if poking out from behind a curtain. It’s time to take the stage in a crossfire of eyes or run away from them and hide behind the curtain.

Rauli Heino

A book, Bo Haglund, drawings, paintings and cartoons, will be published (PARVS Kustannus 2023) in connection with the exhibition. The book features an article written by gallerist Rauli Heino and an interview with the artist by art critics Petteri Enroth and Sini Mononen.

Partly overlapping the exhibition Parco dei Mostri / Second act in Galleria Heino, Bo Haglund is showing Parco dei Mostri / First act in Gallery Vanha Kappalaisentalo in Porvoo from 8-30 April 2023.

The exhbition has been kindly supported by Arts Promotion Centre Finland, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and The Alfred Kordelin Foundation.

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