A common space for harmonic peacemakers
“Aha!” thought I. “A great topic for a blog post. I’ll research this Lennart Helje, and share his extraordinary work for a dose of holiday cheer.”
Well, friends, I can gladly share his incredible art, but even this librarian was at a standstill in trying to research the artist. After literally searching every Google result, all I could find was a scattered handful of details. The most information I found was on Swedish Wikipedia. After copying and pasting the text into Google translate, I got the following:
Lennart Helje, born April 13, 1940 in Lima, Malung-Sälen municipality, died October 13, 2017 in Växjö, was a Swedish painter and illustrator, best known for his Christmas cards with Santa motifs. Helje's elf was accompanied by animals - usually a fox, also other Swedish wild animals and birds, especially magpies.
Lennart Helje was educated at Berghs Reklamskola. Helje made Christmas cards for, among others, Unicef and illustrated stamps as well as Christmas and New Year stamps, and made illustrations for collection plates for Arabia. The exhibition "Utmarker" was shown at Smålands museum, Växjö, 2009 - 2010.
Incredible that so little information is out there on the internet about this extraordinary artist! Even a search through academic journals yielded nothing further. Anyone who is so thoroughly absent in the all-encompassing world of the internet must value their privacy, so I suppose we will celebrate Helje’s life in the way I suspect he wanted us to: by admiring his art.
I love this first artwork because it gives us such perspective on the size of the tomte.
Tomte, by the way, are Swedish household gnomes, also called Nisse in Norway. The tomte lives on the farm and helps to keep the animals safe and healthy. All he asks for in return is a bowl of porridge with a pat of butter on the top served on Yule night. Beware the household with a tomte who doesn’t get his porridge. Tales abound of his trickery and antics then.
Although tomten usually are attached to a property or household, the particular wee gnomes painted by Helje appear to be more guardians of the forest, certainly with enough free time on their hands to hang out with forest animals. Once again, the above artwork beautifully contrasts the tiny gnome with the enormous size of a moose.
I also really love how Helje’s art can so vividly make me feel the cold and stark snow of the winter landscape in one painting, and the glow of a warm fire in another.
As a household with two cats, and a person who also wants their home to be warm and welcoming to all benevolent fey, it makes my heart happy to see Helje’s repeated motifs of pairing his tomte with cats.
Looks like it’s Yule, and this particular tomte is receiving his just reward from the owners of the farm.
I love how the above artwork is somehow simultaneously sweet and endearing, and abstract and intriguing.
You know I must love Helje’s work if I even love this artwork. (I have a phobia about people peering in windows)
I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the beautiful art of Lennart Helje, and consider looking up more of it online. Although information on the artist is sparse, his art can be found in many places online to admire and it may bring a holiday smile to your face.
And please, if you have any stories about your experiences with his art, or know any more about the artist than I shared here, comment below!
I just love this!
Nice painting... Happy New Year Carmen !
Thank You, Luna for sharing these adorable artworks❣️
This is so beautiful!
And now comes, in some countries, the sixth of January which is when the children get their toys!