On the 50s Simo’s style was based on drawing from nature and academic learning session around human body. And indeed he was a keen draughtsman, but after the school he had not yet made up his mind whether to concentrate on painting or to printmaking. Whether to paint or to draw and how to find his own personal style? Those were his question as a young artist.
Here are few examples of his 50s’ oils and prints. First picture is one of those many studies he did of Linnanmäki Amusement Park, in where he was a regular visitor doing sketches and small oils like this. This oil sketch is done around 1959.
The second oil is a Christmas present of 1958 to this his father-in-law, with whom he had a slightly complicated relationship right from the beginning. “Jouluna ukille” means “To Granpa at Christmas” (at that time my big sister was 1 year old). That is a very typical work he did after the art school and this one is sure something “good” rather than mediocre, because it had been selected for this purpose. He painted it somewhere near to his family’s home place at Liimattala 1957.
Etching of 50s were also quite traditional ones depicting reality with bias and influence of Finnish art conceptions of that time. By The Sickbed is a picture (drypoint, 1954) of his father and mother. At The Marketplace (etching and aquatint, 1955) is a good quality example of his prints of 50s.
But then the winds of informalism blew over Finland and affected strongly to my father and his style changed completely. The key work of this drastic change is a small size print of a bone. Even it is very modest one, it helped him to rethink everything and triggered in motion an extremely productive and intensive working period. My Mother had done a kettle of meat soup and father took couple of boiled and cleaned bones as his models. He sketched one and printed it, and got excited. He started to do a whole set of various still-life compositions of nature form curiosities. That opened to him a new direction to proceed.
A Bone (Luu), small format etching and aquatint 1960.
A Bone on The Dark Table (Luu tummalla pöydällä), small format etching and aquatint 1961.
The Polypore Set Up (Kääpä-asetelma), etching, soft ground and aquatint 1961 and an ink sketch for it.
From these still-life structures it was only a small step to do moon landscape setups and to invent odd creatures who inhabit that scenery. At that time The Space Race between Soviet Union and United States was very intensive and Kennedy had set to US a goal to get a man in the moon. This had a strong influence on Simon topics as it is very evident on his prints. Even informalism was a short phenomenon in Finland, it did reverberate to Simo’s works still at late 60s, and every now and then after that. But anyway it was that blow of informalism and a hectic working period of 1960 to 1961 that made him choose a career as printmaker. 1961 is one of his most prolific years ever, even I was born then.
The Arrivals to Evening (Iltaan ehtineet), etching, soft ground and aquatint 1961
The Guards of The Moon (Kuunvartijat), etching, soft ground and aquatint 1961
The Sunk City (Uponnut kaupunki), etching, soft ground and aquatint 1961
Brought by The Night (Yön tuomat), etching 1967.
The Night of Metamorphosis (Metamorfoosien yö), etching 1968