The works in Anne Tompuri’s (1958–) latest exhibition are massive in scope, covering entire walls with visions of the natural world. Dense woods, impenetrable thickets, expanses of grass and delicate shrouds and webs cover vast canvases.
The large paintings, reminiscent of stage sets, enter into the viewer’s space, claiming it for themselves. Indeed, it could be argued that Tompuri’s art here constitutes a space or a place in itself rather than a painting in any traditional sense of the word. It is as if the paintings have been committed directly on to the wall. Vast, black and white and defined by the sheer power of their visual idiom, these works are a visual, intellectual and visceral experience.
What Anne Tompuri’s nature scenes, depicted both at distance and in close up, all share is a glimmering light, like the sun rising below the horizon. The artist has always been fascinated by light above colour. Executed in gouache and pigment, the paintings depict darkness and light, side by side, creating space for one another.
Anne Tompuri’s portrayals of the endless, bleak forest could easily be overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair. And yet, each and every one of them has light and hope, glimpsing from behind the darkness. For the artist, the forest is, above all, a source of peace and a source of strength. Nature, to her, is the ultimate foundation, the beginning and the end. People may pass but nature remains.
For Anne Tompuri, the creative process begins with a small sketch. The journey from sketch to painting is full challenges, as she pursues her desired result. On closer inspection, her highly effective and impactful works would reveal a palimpsest of layers and lines, evidence of a lengthy working process.
In Chinese art, the lines and brush strokes are the artist’s most important tool and means of expression. Tompuri has sought to imitate the clean and unaffected line found in Chinese brush painting and let the line lead the way.