Sitting at the intersection of nature and art and the nature of human language this Finnish exhibition forwards topical issues relating to protecting our natural world through the recycling of materials, air pollution and addressing the problem of GMO’s in food. In tandem the nature of language is approached from multiple directions with one example of paintings of signs and shapes that propose a possible alternative sentence structure, narrative nests, cultural sign language and a monumental expression of frailty. Woven together these rich and multi-varied group of works give rise to new expressions of human intelligence while reminding us of our impact on the natural world.
This exhibition was created by the Himmelblau Printmaking Studio in Tampere, Finland for this years edition of the new “Finlayson Art Area, FAA” event. Like an adventure the works are arranged to be discovered. Scattered through out town and placed in unusual as well as traditional locations the wonderful feeling of search and discovery is evoked. For this episode, curated by Pertti Ketonen and coordinated by Katja Villemonteix, the Himmelblau Printmaking Studio organized and invited both Finnish artists as well as an international artist to participate in the city wide presentation. The artists in this exhibition include Kari Cavén from Helsinki, Finland, Richard Humann from Brooklyn, New York, Kaarina Kaikkonen from Helsinki, Kaisu Koivisto from Helsinki, and Osmo Rauhala from Siuro, Finland and New York.
Early in his career Kari Cavén was influenced by the Italian 1960’s art movement, Arte Povera. Arte Povera was a style that tried to subvert the commercialization of art by combining insignificant materials such as stones, fabric or newspapers with the conceptual, minimalist and performance arts. Grounded on this fabrication focus Cavén uses found materials like scraps of wood and metal to establish an early version of upcycling. Viewed today his work can be reevaluated as an endeavor to protect our natural world and find beauty in what humans discard establishing an aesthetic of designing refuse, while the mobility of the works suggest a process of transition.
Richard Humann’s work is shaped by a conceptual focus that is; work where the concept eclipses a material specific concentration. With the idea as the primary design criteria his work examines language and self-exploration.
“The Songbird Sings of Home” a group of works made specifically for this exhibition, operates at the intersection of nature and language. This work was created based on a collection of stories that people from all over the world have sent him about their early upbringing, in their native languages. From these sheaves of paper, Humann has cut up and woven the stories into over 30 cup shaped paper birds’ nests that can be found in various locations throughout Tampere and in the Himmalblau Printing Studio’s gallery. These woven childhood tales reframes the idea of a nest as a home formed and held together by yarns. Humann said the “short stories are meant to show both the differences, but more important the similarities that we all share as human beings.”
With this work Humann also reflects on a natural habitat. The nest is about beginnings, home and family. It also provides warmth and protection and in this case with storytelling framing the structure. In considering this work for the exhibition Humann said he “was influenced by the Finnish ability to combine high-end design and architectural style, along with a deep appreciation for the natural world. It is about how our home life, with its comforts and security have shaped who we are.”
With “Transporter,” Humann also analyzes the urban nature of his home in Brooklyn, New York while playing on the idea shaped by the piece “The Songbird Sings of Home”. For “Transporter” a new real-time sound piece, he put a microphone outside of his studio to pick up the acoustic life there,24 hours a day. The work is then broadcast on an internet radio station to Tampere where a speaker is installed in one of the exhibition spaces. Framing the structural sounds of his home as a ‘sound walk’ zone in the gallery, people can hear the interweavings of random stories from another residence, his studio, live at the Finlayson complex in Tampere.
Additional Humann works that can be seen in the exhibition include a series of sign language based sculptures like “For the Art” and “The Quiet Argument.” Also exhibited is a number of videos such as “Live Life in Truth” in which his iconic waist length braid swings like a metronomic mandate.
Kaarrina Kaikkonen is one of Finland’s most respected artists. Her installations metaphorically reflect on the fragility of the human skin by harnessing the quotidian nature of shirts and coats. With these body-encasing forms she drapes and connects buildings that line streets, bridges the walls and floors of rooms and spans spaces in an organic web of draped shirts forming colorful and fragile structures that redefine these liminal spaces. Ranging from delicately graded colors that span the scale of whites to pale pink, a mélange of greys, primary colors or just a white palate, the fragile yet architectural works form ghost-like presences that fill rooms and cover a breadth of stone stairs.
“Shadow,” is the piece that Kaikkonen installed for the exhibition. This is a work which can be thought of as a monument to human fragility swaying above the Satakunnankatu Street.
Kaisu Koivisto is interested in the juxtaposition of natural and cultural divisions through the combination of subject matter and materials. For the FAA exhibition she has created a large-scale installation of her beautifully sculpted mushrooms, which can be seen all around the Finlayson Mill area.
In her enthusiasm to highlight the “ugly and tragic” of our world she has also installed “The Absorption of Pollution, Saasteenkerääjä.” This work consists of cow horns that have traveled all over the world. The cow “horn is a porous material that absorbs pollutants in the air. These are the same pollutants that darken and buildings and impact our air,” she says. This large and foreboding work is an eery reminder to protect nature and the air that surrounds us and gives us life.
Osmo Rauhala is considered a pioneer of Finland’s internationalization of visual art, and one of their most important painters today. In 2009 Rauhala with Lavonen received the “Culture Prize of the Church” award in recognition of their Tyrvään church paintings. Rauhala created 70 of the paintings required for this extraordinary medieval stone church that was destroyed by arson in 1997.
Rauhala’s works are occupied with spirals and ellipses and the fundamentals of color. He points out that the spiral and the ellipse can be found in the shaping of some of the minutest elements like DNA and the contents of the atom to the Milky Way and the orbits of the planets. Chaos also figures into his working concerns and drives his interest in substance, energy and the state of chaos as he looks for new forms at their intersection.
In a series of oil paintings from Rauhala’s solo exhibition at Kiasma Finland’s contemporary art museum, one can see his signatory style. Subverting the long held traditional concept of one painting expresses a contained visual idea, he orders multiple images and signs on separate canvases to define a linear time implied narrative. With “Remember to Forget Everything” the image of a hummingbird hovering over a limb is broken up horizontally into eight varied size canvases that imply the breaking up of the continuity of our natural world. Viewing the work like a narrative, the reader assembles the pieces into one image, thus providing hope that the rift in nature caused by human intervention can be healed.
Rauhala is also exhibiting his video installation “Secret Forest” which takes a hiker on a reindeer ride through a mysterious forest created by multiple screens suspended through out the Iron Hall. In converting the hall into an immersive forest he contrasts the meditative beauty and danger of the woods with the transparent and minimalist precision of the architecturally ordered space.
Osmo Rauhala’s participation in Finlayson Art Area exhibition also includes his “Game Theory” an installation that can be seen above the street in the complex, and in a second gallery.
This year the Himmelblau Gallery celebrates the printmaking studio’s 25th anniversary with a summer long exhibition. There at the gallery one can see graphic works created by both Finnish as well as international artists. At the Himmelblau studio visitors will also enjoy seeing the print makers working and investigate first hand the complex and varied techniques used to create graphic art.
Finally, Finland’s traditional textile company, Finlayson & Co., which was founded in 1820 is also a participant. Their exhibition “Forest of Memories” held in their old factory location is showcasing the company’s most popular products.
Through August 23, 2015
Finlayson Art Area FAA
Main entrances: Väinö Linnan aukio 13 (TR1) and Finlaysoninkuja 9 (Himmelblau Gallery)
Open: Tue-Fri 11-17, Sat-Sun 12-17