Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Gothic Art in Spotlight: Uncanny Giants of Ron Mueck

Last weekend I went for an art road trip in a small but selected company. This means that we left the capital of Finland and traveled through ten art museums and other summer exhibitions during three days.

The route took us from Southern Finland to West, the city of Tampere, and then to Eastern Finland. You can roughly see the route here in this map in purple, it's unimaginatively named as 'Art Road Trip'. The distance me and my entourage traveled was about 600 km (370 miles).
Map made with karttaikkuna.fi
The places we visited on Friday were:

Riihimäki art museum
Hämeenlinna art museum (Riihimäki and Hämeenlinna are the names of different cities)
Sara Hildén Art Museum

Sara Hildén (1905–1993) was a Finnish businesswoman and a patron of arts. She started an art foundation (named after her) in 1962. The foundation concentrated on modern art but they do hold exhibitions of contemporary art these days. This summer they are hosting a solo exhibition of Ron Mueck. Previously they've had solo exhibitions of many famous artists, among them Andy Warhol.
Mueck is an Australian artist, and has made only 40 works. 10 of them are displayed this summer at Sara Hildén Art Museum in the city of Tampere. The works are extremely life-like sculptures that are in some way out of proportion. They are either outrageously large and hence uncanny or very small. 

I found the exceptionally large works delightfully disturbing. among them were a giant couple under a parasol, a human-sized dead chicken and a baby the size of a whale. 
The sculptures are detailed, they have individual hairs and pores and everything. This might be a weird thing to say, but the sense of 'flesh' was very strong in the exhibition. 
Unashamed I used random people as measuring sticks for these art works. The sculptures would not look so exceptional, if you could not understand the size of them. I think this gigantic baby is fascinating and at the same time repelling. 

What do you think of Ron Mueck's art?

Next week: the treasures of Serlachius Museums, among them something that will probably remind you of Doctor Who!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Gothic Art in Spotlight: The everyday cruelty in Jarmo Mäkilä's art

Some time ago I went to see the art exhibitions at HAM, Helsinki Art Museum. There were a couple of big exhibitions and a couple of small exhibitions in their facilities. The exhibition that made my little goth heart shiver the most was the exhibition From Heino With Love. Heino is the surname of a family that began to collect contemporary art. Their love for art gave birth to the Heino Art Foundation. This exhibition in HAM is the first time the public can see a glimpse of their extensive collection. The exhibition is on until 28th of August 2016.

Bleak and cruel childhood

The exhibition From Heino With Love featured many interesting contemporary artists but what really caught my eye on my visit to the museum were the works of Jarmo Mäkilä. His works often show the mundane cruelty of our everyday life. Mäkilä has made sculptures, paintings and installations. Many of his work have a sort of a horror film atmosphere, but some are terrible in a more documentary sort of way.

The piece I want to show you is named First Day at School (2007–2008). It is an installation of a miniature model of a school building. On the other side there is either a trail of toys leading to the school, or quite possibly escaping from there.
On the other side the building there are visible marks of violence. The windows are smashed and there are signs of a fire or an explosion.
For me this is a bleak description of a child's feelings when he/she is forced to go to a scary new facility for the very first time. Very big schools with not enough staff and too many bullies can seem like a hostile place to be.

What thoughts spring into your minds?

Art around the city

What I really like about HAM is that they also organize exhibitions outside the museum. At the moment one of the old boulevards for pedestrians in the center of Helsinki is the showplace for an installation by one of the best known contemporary artists: Japanese Yayoi Kusama.
Kusama has wrapped the trees into polka dots. The whole street looks like this. A bit like Wonderland, isn't it?

HAM also has an exhibition room or a window in the nearest metro station (simply named as HAM metro). It is a sort of a glass cage for the art on the platform so people waiting for the next metro can look at some art while they are on the platform.
At the moment HAM features large paintings by a Swedish graffiti artist Kaos.

I hope you enjoyed this post!