For Raili Tang (b. 1950), colors are more than just hues distinguished by our visual receptors: they are soul-scapes, states of mind, nuanced impressions. Colors are her passion, her gateway to specific emotions; they well up from deep within her, insisting on escaping through the tip of her paintbrush. Last summer Tang experienced a sudden yearning to immerse herself in the color green, which resulted in the series of paintings now featured in the Viridian exhibition. The title refers to the blue-green pigment.
Inspired by her walks in nature, the canvases are full of references to lush greenery and the parks of Helsinki. They vividly capture the fresh blossoming of promise in spring, the heatwaves of mid-summer, and the exuberant colors of the imminent autumn. Although her compositions are abstract, we can identify a horizon between the sky and earth. Rather than adhering to the laws of realistic representation, however, she consciously plays with the rules of perspective, or the lack thereof. In some paintings she makes the viewer hide in the bushes like a timid rabbit, in others, she lifts us to the very tallest treetop.
Painting is a consciously physical process for Tang. She applies the paint intuitively, layer upon layer until she instinctively arrives at the result she desires. She wants every work to bear the imprint of its history – each layer of paint adds a new chapter, inviting a dialogue with the next layer, and so on until a narrative unfolds. It is the very physicality of painting that makes Tang keep falling in love all over again with painting and colors.
Tang has exhibited widely in Finland and abroad. Her work is found in many of Finland’s leading museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Helsinki Art Museum. Tang won the Pro Finlandia prize for visual arts in 2015.