Rocketmädels, Atari-Grafik, Maria-Leena Räihälä
Text by Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili
Throughout history the motive of birds has been essential in visual arts. Phoenix as a symbol of resurrection and eternity, swan standing for purity, crow representing adultery and wicked thoughts are some of the crucial images haunting us.
Freedom, human aspirations for the upper celestial realms are all epitomized by winged creatures. An essential component of the decorative aesthetics in Islamic art - bird motives were significant in expressing human devotion to the eternal values of love, virtue, holiness.
Flower and bird painting was an inevitable component of Chinese art for centuries. Sketches of birds dating back to the Ming Dynasty or made during the reign of the Song Emperor Huizong withstood the test of time and are still inspiring us today with their technical refinement.
It was not by chance that dove - the ancient symbol of the soul and of the holy spirit in Christianity - was borrowed by Picasso who transformed it into the immediately recognisable signature symbol of peace.
Fly Eye, Maria-Leena Räihälä
Birds initially incarnate the powers of nature that are eternal and that outlive culture. Nature that is actually impartial to the plight of humans, indifferent to the earthly sufferings and to death, is the aspect that regenerates cyclically. Birds are often the harbingers of this perennial regeneration of nature. Morgenvogel - the morning bird at the end of winter discreetly celebrates the onslaught of spring - initiating the so-called “Sacre du Printemps” that is unimaginable without birds and which has been immortalised by composer Igor Stravinsky.
Amidst the ultimate ruins that are the inevitable destiny of each civilisation nature takes over, and birds' singing is the only sound that resonates when all the rest lies in rubbles. Speaking of birds and of Stravinsky one cannot but mention his legendary “L’Oiseau de Feu” - a ballet based on the Russian mythological fairy tale symbol - a firebird - a dazzling, breathtaking creature with supernatural powers and eternal beauty that is so unforgettably represented in Ballets Russes and immortalised by outstanding painter and theatre designer Leon Bakst.
In contemporary arts birds are as present as ever. The Morgenvogel Real Estate project initiated by artist Maria-Leena Räihälä and writer Manuel Bonik is a wonderful example. The Morgenvogel draws upon the centuries long tradition of representation of birds in art history, it also invokes cultural, mythological and historical aspects related to birds. Contemporary social contexts, urbanisation and gentrification issues are all surprisingly at stake when it comes to the habitat of birds in big cities.
Concerts, exhibitions, performances and installations in various locations around Berlin curated by Morgenvogel Real Estate raise awareness about the human condition in our severely rationalised lifestyle, the project emphasises nature as the eternal source and origin. The Morgenvogel art book launched in December 2014 is an absolute highlight in Berlin contemporary book/art life. Issued by Gegenstalt Verlag, the book features drawings and photos by artist Maria-Leena Räihälä and texts by Manuel Bonik, Axel Roch, Wolfgang Müller, Helmut Höge and Peter Berz. This artist-book explores new ways of presentation of art within book format and inspires the reader both visually and in terms of contents.
Birds and floral motives in the drawings by Maria-Leena Räihälä continue the lineage of aesthetic innovation. Ornamental, decorative, figurative elements merge in her work with the abstract imagery, making our eyes travel in search of forms hidden within forms in an intricate web of lines, intertwined shapes of flowers turned out to be birds transforming themselves into female fantastic creatures losing themselves into abstractions. It's said that birds of a feather flock together. Flock with Morgenvogel.
Morgenvogel art book