Page 22 - Matti Kalkamo / RAW
P. 22

What we realized when we were young
Kalkamo remembers drawing all the time as a child. If the models came from comic book characters, he developed them into his own, creating crazy combinations. Kalkamo thinks the seeds for his current comic book aesthetic came from Laurel & Hardy, cartoons, Cocco Bill comic books and later the covers of punk records and indie magazines. The absurd perplexity of some wall or toilet graffiti has stuck to his mind, and they still feel valuable somehow. The directness of silliness is actually true.
Rock music came to Kalkamo soon. After building his own drum kits out of buckets and boxes, the path to band activities was clear during his schoolyears. Soon Kalkamo was playing drums in the psychobilly band Garbagemen. They were among the most prominent figures in Tampere in terms of look and style. The punk attitude defined their existence. The music was great; better and louder than the platitude of this world.
After the Liminka School of Art, Kalkamo was admitted to the Kankaanpää Art School as a painter. He soon gave up painting, however, after he first visited the sculpting class and could not understand how the sculptures being worked there had been made. This was another stunning moment. There was something really great there, something to strive for.
Although the Kankaanpää Art School was a sometimes chaotic islet of young art students far from everything, the art education itself was actually fairly classical; moulding clay based on a model, then casting. In sculpting class, a plastic bag was put over a clay model’s head to prevent drying. Kalkamo left it there as part of the finished sculpture. It was as if the human figure was facing execution; an experiment in form became a work of art. Its form did not merely exhibit moulding skill, but took the mind elsewhere, into something more general and more tragic.
The school gave Kalkamo an opportunity to work longer; he often spent even his weekends in sculpting class, experimenting with techniques, wondering about things, perhaps working in a spirit similar to bands rehearsing inside their caverns. Kalkamo got fond of bronze, which he learned to use through experimentation sufficiently that his technical skills have subsequently also been useful in repairing bronze sculptures.
Immediately after graduation, Kalkamo became one of the artists doing bronze casting in his hometown of Tampere at the bronze foundry built inside a dilapidated old industrial building in Onkiniemi. Casting, one of the basic techniques of classical sculpture, became Kalkamo’s key working method, even though there are fewer and fewer experts of this tradition going back thousands of years. Casting has been considered numerous times to be a sign of the sculpture of a bygone world. But for Kalkamo, casting means something other than sculptures and statues; it means insight of form in wax and casting materials and shaping the world that we see – in other words, modern art. A personal form of expression arises out of the depths of tradition. Still, Kalkamo believes that a sculpture has its own personality: “It is slightly impertinent, it elbows its way into a space, and it hurts if you bump into it. It can’t be conveniently placed on some wall to get it out of one’s feet.”

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