Brazilian painter, Isabella Cabral, was the first artist to open a UPM Bioforum exhibition at the Head Office in Töölönlahti, Helsinki.
Cabral’s exhibition, entitled “Worlds apart, united in wood,” presents two collections of paintings, Fennica and Rio Negro. The collections symbolise distinctive ideas from two different cultures that are close to Cabral’s heart.
– In my opinion, a brilliant part of the Finnish psyche is the perseverance and energy they show when performing difficult tasks. When I decided to represent pieces of birch tree in connection with my vision of Finland, these characteristics were naturally at the forefront of my mind, Cabral says.
On the other hand, I appreciate the flexibility of the Brazilians when dealing with different situations. In the Rio Negro collection I kept in mind this flexibility, which is a common attitude for Brazilians.
– With these collections of paintings, I wanted to convey the idea that these two virtues —perseverance and flexibility — must be complementary. On one hand, you need to have enough strength (or “sisu”) to complete difficult tasks but you also have the right to change your mind.
Stories to tell
In these two collections, Isabella Cabral uses wood as a source of inspiration, and each piece has a story to tell.
Cabral has named several paintings in the Fennica series after the main characters of Kalevala, Finland’s national epic.
– When I peeled a piece of birch I could see a bright green colour underneath the bark even though it was November. When it oxidised, it turned to brown. This event inspired Aino and Louhi, two paintings that show different moments of the same experience.
The pieces of wood represented in the Rio Negro series are brightly coloured pieces from old Brazilian wooden boats.
In my paintings I use transparent oil colours and I work with multiple layers. Placing a layer on top of another to achieve the notion of volume is a process that mirrors the way a sculpture is created.
Usually I begin a piece of work by painting the object I want to show in the foreground. After this, I create the background, where the colour and shadows serve to highlight the object.
Finally, I continue painting the object to achieve more volume, says Cabral, describing her technique.
Prior to the UPM Biofore exhibition, Isabella Cabral’s works have been displayed in the Åland Islands, Sweden, France and Brazil.
She was excited to have the opportunity to present her paintings at the UPM Bioforum exhibition.
– I like the way in which this space is open to the public. I hope that the Bioforum will be enjoyed by visitors: this place represents a new concept and is neither a museum nor a gallery. Bioforum combines beautiful architecture with an exhibition of quality art works, without the need to pay admission fees or to buy pieces.
– For both UPM and I, wood is inspirational in our everyday life and in our activities. To show art works that represent pieces of wood at Bioforum is the perfect pairing, she concludes.
Text Vesa Puoskari