I spent my formative years in Finland. Between a modest home life, my mother’s Seventh-Day Adventist religion and the country’s no-nonsense approach to everything in life, excess in any form did not exist in my world. The art by Finnish masters I was familiar with were the austere depictions of the Finnish national epic “Kalevala” by Akseli Gallen-Kallela and the death-themed frescos of Hugo Simberg that covered the walls of my home town cathedral. Since extravagance was not something I was used to, I believe I was primed to fall prey to it. And that seduction came when I stepped into a Russian Orthodox Church in the far corners of eastern Finland in Karjala. The wall of intricate golden icons drew me towards their opulent charm. I wasn’t interested in the saints themselves, but their extraordinary presentation. The memory of finding such a treasure is what these paintings are born from.