Tell us a little about yourself, what led you into this profession?
The best way to describe it is a slow burning hell towards a moment where I didn’t have a choice anymore. The absolute definitive moment was when I worked in Paris as global creative director for Cartier in yet another advertising agency where I had to deal with power struggles, fear, and getting my creative integrity gang banged. I always worked within other creative areas simultaneously and done projects that would best be described as art, but at that time I needed to make a more life changing decision. It was a change-or-die moment basically. A collector who visited my studio a while ago said that I always been an artist but I made a detour. Working as an artist is simply what suits my personality the best. To find creative happiness and meaning as a commercial artist was a truly Sisyphean attempt but a choise I made, in all honesty, because of laziness, cowardness, and greed. Ironically that hell inspired the theme which I work with today. All happy stuff, haha!
Your work is difficult to compare with any other: sculpture and canvas, which look like a picture together – it’s really amazing! We would like to know more about your style.
Thank you. Yes, I know, this is a constant issue when I refer to my work. If anyone can find a good name for what I’m doing I promise I will give away a work for free. My style comes out of a very early realization that I didn’t feel that I could add anything to painting, at the same time as I worship the canvas and I didn’t want to let it go. I also didn’t know how to express what I wanted with paint — the concept of conflict and its essential role in moving through life and time. I felt that the canvas had some fundamental limitations as a pictorial vehicle. For example, I cannot paint death because it’s an abstract concept. I can paint the reaper or something else that is meant to represent death, but that is not death, just an illustration — a physical manifestation that can only be experienced with your senses. But by cutting holes in the canvas and placing different sculptures into it in various ways I discovered that I could release the canvas from the boundaries of being a purely pictorial vehicle and charge it with abstract and existential concepts that only exist in thought. The canvas becomes a surface on which you can project emotions, thoughts, and concepts. The fact that the sculptures and the canvas are forced together makes it natural to use the concept of conflict as the overarching theme I’m interested in.
Can you briefly describe the process of creating them? How long does it take to work on one painting? What materials and tools do you use for creating pictures?
The process is extremely painful. 10% is about creating and 90% is about building and I don’t enjoy building at all. I always start off by sketching in the computer. I make thousands of changes so the computer is perfect for that. I then print out the sketch and lay it on the floor and start to build the sculptures on top of it with a construction material that is both light and very easy to work with. I mostly use my hands but also anything that I can use to shape the material with. After I’m finished sculpting I have to wait for it to dry in the air. There is no way to speed up the process, so I usually work on multiple works. After that I apply the bronze and then there’s a lot of patination and polishing, cutting in canvas, and building the support for the canvas and the sculptures. Sometimes I have assistants helping me out so I don’t go insane but I mostly do everything myself. In theory a work should be able to finish in two weeks. In reality it can take a year. I would say patination and polishing is what takes the most time. I think I’ve developed a polishing fetisch. There is something very sexual with stroking your own work that much. Like some kind of masturbation where the object for your sexual arousal is not someone else but yourself… your own brain.
Tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it and how long have you been working there?
It’s in a basement of a residential house. It had been used as a studio before I got it and a friend of mine had spotted it and told me about it. I’m very fortunate as it has an old shower room which I need for rinsing the patinated bronze. I’ve been there a year or so.
Could you describe your usual working day in the studio?
I aim to go there early in the morning, end up coming there around lunch time, procrastinate for a bit, and then work really late. My girlfriend is not a very big fan of that way of working.
What is art for you? What are its goals and meanings in the modern world?
I think art is both totally useless and at the same time essential for our existence. If you want to change something in society or help a specific group of people, then art is probably the last thing you should do. I think art doesn’t solve things but it makes people think and it inspires, and that could lead to tangible solutions. Or it can simply make people feel stuff, and that is equally important.
Tell us a little about your upcoming exhibition.
I just finished two exibitions. One exhibition co-created by the Pori Art Association and curator Laura Köönikkä and features me and some Finnish artists. A few weeks ago I participated in an exhibition curated by artist Charlie Roberts, among others, in Oslo. It’s work on paper which I really like doing because there is no planning involved at all — I do the sculptures freehand and work along with the coincidences. And it goes really fast to make them too. Now I’m working on two other exhibitions that I can’t really say that much about because they’re still under a lot of process and thoughts.
Your thoughts that you like to share with our readers.
If you have the opportunity, make music instead. It’s the ultimate art form.