Swedish Artist Jordi Arkö Unveils Original Print for Auction

"The Swedish Rooster" by Jordi ArkoLINDSBORG, KAN., November 2, 2011—Artist Jordi Arkö unveiled an original print, “The Swedish Rooster,” that will be sold via silent auction to benefit the Bethany College Alternative Gift Market at his last public address on November 1.  Email bids to Jane Tubbs, administrative assistant of the art department, at tubbsj@bethanylb.edu. Bids will be accepted until December 2.

The winner of the print will be announced at Bethany’s Alternative Gift Market. Additional originals of the print will also be for sale at the Market in the Levin Room of Pihlblad Memorial Union on December 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on December 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The print is one Arkö made especially for Bethany College to sell via silent auction. “The Swedish Rooster,” is Arkö’s interpretation of the Japanese tale about an emperor who commissioned a calligrapher to paint him a rooster.

The story involves the emperor repeatedly asks the artist for his rooster painting to which the artist replies that it is not ready. Finally, after 50 years, the emperor demands the painting be made. The artist asks him to sit down, serves him tea, and quickly paints the rooster. When the emperor asks the artist what he was doing these 50 years when the painting took such a short amount of time to make, the artist takes the emperor to the next room which is full of crumpled drawings of roosters.

“Art can look very easy but takes a lot of practice and experience. Fifty seconds of painting took 50 years of practice for the calligrapher’s rooster,” Arkö explains.

Arkö puts a Swedish twist on the tale by adding a touch of blue and yellow to the rooster but alludes to the tale’s origins with the paper used—high-quality Japanese paper called kozo—its calligraphy-like style, and the inclusion of a red dot symbolizing Japan’s flag.

The address the print was unveiled during was “Organizing Large Art Projects,” where Arko discussed one of his best-known works, the 295-foot long tapestry depicting Frans G. Bengtsson’s Viking novel Röde Orm, “The Long Ships.” Arkö helped organize and create the piece, which was exhibited through the U.S. and the world in the 1990’s.

Arkö also created over 100 lithographs depicting the novel. He presented Bethany with a complete set of the Röde Orm illustrations for the Wallerstedt Learning Center library.

The Long Ships was one of my favorite adventure stories as a kid, like The Three Musketeers,” says Arkö. Only 250 original sets were made, and there are no reproductions.

Röde Orm is not only a book, but an artist’s work,” says Arkö. “The story and the illustrations are good sources for Vikings research.”

Arkö will give his final presentation at Bethany’s Chapel services on November 7 at 10:30 a.m. in Burnett Center. For more information on Arkö’s tenure at Bethany, visit www.bethanylb.edu//arko.

The Pearson Distinguished Professorship in Swedish Studies is endowed by a gift from the late Gerald “Bud” Pearson. It was created so that students, faculty, staff, and community members can explore and understand ways in which modern Swedish culture and experience can be learned and incorporated into their own lives.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.

Caption: “The Swedish Rooster” by Jordi Arkö

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