Dies Irae, in English, Day of Wrath, is the Latin name for the Soul Mass Requiem. The author of the text is thought to be the Franciscan brother Tuomas of Celano (1200-1265). The first verse of the poem reads: “The day of wrath, that day, will dissolve the world in ashes: (this is) the testimony of David along with Sibyl”. Dies Irae is in the hymnbook of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland under number 158, entitled “Terrible Day of Hate!”. The first half of the text tells how all the evil deeds of man are finally revealed and “nothing will remain unpunished”. The other half of the poem changes the perspective of revenge on the author’s own guilt and prayer: ”I sigh, like the guilty one: my face reddens in guilt: Spare the imploring one, O God.”
Journey to darkness
I’ve used the metaphor that the subject of the drawing is like a hike in the wilderness – I can choose where I go, but I don’t know where I end up. In 2019, I started a series of drawings that confront human evil. I know I am dealing with a difficult subject that would be easier to forget than to face.
Why do I study evil in my art? As a visual artist and a theologian specializing in ethics, I have drifted into these existentialist questions. I think it’s good for a person to explore their own dark sides. We each have wounds and it is valuable to feel our own deficient behavior. We need to see ourselves in a good light.
Under the right circumstances, many ordinary people have ended up as cold users of violence. War is a good example of this. Very quickly, the images of the enemy suppress the neighbor’s sight and both parties commit intolerable deeds. As I investigate evil, I also have to ask: Could it be me?
There is also a profound desire for justice in humanity. As I draw a series of events filled with unexplained evil, I come to the conclusion that justice will never be achieved for many victims. Accepting that fact seems almost impossible. The subjects of my drawings do not leave me alone. Maybe that’s why I’m drawing evil. Maybe the drawing is like a prayer: “Deliver from evil”.
The “Dies Irae – A Day of Wrath” drawing series depicts events that haunt my mind: instruments of torture, violence against children and massacres. The drawings in the series are based on real events and places. In my works I have described e.g. Koskela teenage murder, the torture of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and the events in Utøya, Norway. However, the victims of these horrific acts must not be forgotten. I feel that evil deeds pass in lines through my body and in all its gloom the final work can be comforting, even beautiful. The pencil drawings are 115 x 150 cm.