Kuutti Lavonen (born in 1960) is an art history expert with a special interest in Christian mythology and legends. Lavonen’s principal theme is the human face which he expresses in his constant depiction of angels’ faces. From 1999 to 2003, he was a teacher of graphic art at the Academy of Plastic Arts in Helsinki.

Angels and saints convey life and humanity

Angels and saints have long inspired the work of artist Kuutti Lavonen.

The inspiration behind Lavonen’s angelic and saintly figures is the renaissance and baroque art of Italy and France. Lavonen believes that a visit to a convent run by barefoot nuns in central Madrid in 1992 proved to be a turning point for his art. He was particularly struck by the extra-large paintings of the archangels at the convent that dated from the 1600s. Lavonen wanted to know more about the beautiful angels that appear in baroque art, and that was how he came to do research into angels. Lavonen has actually described himself as a historian of the art world.

“A human message is conveyed through faces and hands”

Lavonen often portrays faces and hands in his work. The tender gaze and blessing hands of the angels instil a feeling of safety in the viewer. The viewer can relate to the work because he can see his own image reflected in it: vulnerable and gentle faces. It has been said that Lavonen’s angels seem to bear people’s sorrows, loves and pain of abandonment. “Even though the subjects are personal ones, I want to make the pictures more general. I blur the boundary between the intimate and the universal. I want to reach a broad audience, to make people experience beauty,” Lavonen has commented. Lavonen uses a lot of lithography and stone carving in his work. This technique enables work to be produced that simultaneously combines the qualities of a drawing and of a painting, as well as allowing the use of a wide range of colours. Metal graphics are also one of Lavonen’s favourite techniques. In particular, soft-based metal graphics can be used to capture the gentle trace and line of a drawing. Indeed, it has been said that a contrast can be seen in Lavonen’s work between, on the one hand, the often sad expressions on the faces and the melancholy, and, on the other hand, the use of lively, light lines. The technique also imbues the work with a sculptured quality.