Often sculpture art remains quite unnoticed in the middle of the busy everyday life. City
centres and plazas would look quite different if all sculpture art was to be taken away, but rarely we
stop to examine statues in peace. Pekka Kauhanen talks about this on a documentary displayed in
his exhibition in Helsinki Art Museum, HAM.
In the exhibition, along with the documentary, 26 of his pieces are displayed. It is an
interesting feeling to walk among so many sculptures. They come more alive and discuss with each
other rather than standing on a plaza as a part of the architecture. Most of the pieces are from this
millennium. His pieces have often been said to have a certain sense of humour, but Kauhanen
himself mentions that along with the humour, in his work, there is always a certain serious aspect as
well. The sculptures mostly present slightly bizarre human figures and in between there are also
some snowmen and fairies.
The exhibition seems to deal with different aspects of humanity and the pieces are very
insightful. The sculptures are mostly done in the natural colours of the materials, but there are some
colour spots in between as well, like the work ‘Primavera’. The pieces are placed around the room
and the first one is located already in front of the entrance stairs.
When walking around in the exhibition space, the sculpture ‘Squashed Figure With Shadow’
catches my eye. For me it seems to be greeting the viewer and it is not the only figure that looks like
it has a need to be seen. It is interesting that the shadow built behind the sculpture seems more
solid and present than the actual figure. The shadow is made of a darker material and the figure of a
material that reflects light. The shadow also has colour in its eyes and fairies playing close to its ear.
It seems almost like the shadow knows something more about life than the figure itself. Many
names of the pieces seem to open slightly different meanings in English and Finnish. The Finnish
name for this piece means ’a figure born squashed and its shadow’.
There is something twisted in many of the sculptures. Some have multiple legs or hands or then they are missing their head and child figures are wearing heals. Also, the sculptures are mostly hollow and that is emphasized and made a part of the piece. The figures seem somehow incomplete.
I pay attention that most of the girl statues have similar kinds of massive skirts and they especially seem to be needing multiple limbs. The boy figures look older than the age I imagine them being. Kauhanen has also designed the recently unveiled National Memorial to the Winter War that is placed in Kasarmintori in Helsinki. Along with all the other interesting work, in this HAM exhibition, you can see a model of the memorial and a documentary that tells about this process.
Karoliina / Kunstportal