The Burning Heart

Kuutti Lavonen
In safety, in disguise,
In darkness up the secret stair I crept,
(O happy enterprise!)
Concealed from other eyes
When all my house at length in silence slept.
Upon that lucky night
In secrecy, inscrutible to sight,
I went without discerning
And with no other light
Except for that which in my heart was burning.

When we have faith in our own powers, we are guided by them. But an artist’s journey into his innermost self leads him face to face with all kinds of forces that dwell in the dark night of our soul, matter destructive powers, aggression, darkness itself live in our very souls. In his struggle to reach the immaterial level of light and the vibrant honey and repel the forces of hatred.

Henry Wuorila-Stenberg expresses his personal history and tale of suffering without avoiding contact with the various facets, levels and manifestations of his psyche. Light and darkness, blood, and the sun, atonement and struggle, are all part of his contemplative paintings.

From burning in solitude the heart receives strength to address others. Henry Wuorila-Stenberg exhibits his art rarely and after careful consideration, appearing now, as always, renewed and revitalized. Beside his externally simplified monochrome paintings there has grown a series of abstract icons (for that is what Wuorila-Stenberg’s paintings really are) that seem to writhe while their roots draw sap from the depths; their contorted, organic spirals draw their strenght from the depths of the unconscious. “Ornament is a crime”, argued Adolf Loos, but Henry Wuorila-Stenberg’s ornaments and signs are filled with profound symbolism and their pictorial associations are partly quite figurative. Dragons, gates, trees, saints, crosses and circles all communicate messages tuned to different levels of consciousness.

The artist moves in secrecy in the lucky night of his expression, concealed from other eyes – only the pictures remaining as proof of his struggle with the immaterial. The little dabs of deep cardinal-red are like memories of the inflammations and clots that the agonized Self must penetrate in his struggle towards a way and state of equilibrium. The abode of an artists soul is never ultimately calm; there are always dark passages remaining to be illuminated. Henry Wuorila-Stenberg’s paintings are like jewels revealed by polishing from rough stone, jewels revealed by polishing from rough stone, jewels in which strong ethicalness and respect for man’s pilgrimage through life are highlighted. As an artist Henry Wuorila-Stenberg has the ability and courage to take heed of his only guide, his own heart.

* St John of the Cross (1542-1591), Spanish mystic poet; the two verses from “Songs of the Soul...”, translation by Roy Campbell, Penquin Classics 1960