Page 21 - Matti Kalkamo / RAW
P. 21

There must be something more than this
I believe it is almost necessary to try to look at Matti Kalkamo’s art of sculpting through popular culture. Not in the sense of looking at how many things in his works have been borrowed from pop art imagery, but by understanding that the way Kalkamo’s art operates relative to the top layer of art is similar to the relationship between subcultures and high art.
Yes, yes, sub- and high cultures have mixed with each other and lost their distinction – so we have been told since at least the 1980s. But have they fully understood each other, spoken their own language and thought in their own manner, yet in a way that allows them to operate comprehensibly even within each other’s spheres – in a way where the really important high art ultimately does not dismiss the directness, unavoidability and great emotional strength of subculture?
In Kalkamo’s art, however, the encounter between these two worlds appears to succeed without either one having to grovel. Kalkamo’s visual thinking that partially utilizes the means of subculture is also relevant in high culture. It is relevant in public art as well.
In order to perceive this in an essay about the artist, we have for once a good reason to take a quick look at Kalkamo’s childhood and youth. It might contain something that is also common to our experiences, no matter how deeply we may have internalized high contemporary art – something shared in the moment where we realize for the first time that something is really, really wonderful. That is, unbelievably, amazingly touching.
There are already several generations where most people as adults still perceive themselves, their identity and the surrounding world – in fact, the basic stance of their whole existence – through the popular culture experiences of their youth. It is understood that they are not all rubbish or products created by the consciousness industry that blunt humanity, but can be building blocks for identity, especially since every one of us can form an individual relationship with them.

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