Page 26 - Matti Kalkamo / RAW
P. 26

Combination plays a trick
Kalkamo’s works sometimes contain clear humorousness, and he is also pretty sharp and quick when it comes to humour in everyday life. But perhaps at its core, the oft- noted humorousness in Kalkamo’s works is a kind of collision of things in a surrealist spirit. Laughter often stems from setting something ordinary in an unexpected context, uttering a familiar phrase in the wrong place or something happening contrary to expectations.
Kalkamo’s art often seems to work through transformation into another, in an area that includes something extremely real with something extremely unusual, funny and terrible alongside it: direct prints of the world and thoughts inspired by the world, or recognizable objects and invisible social structures. After first conceiving a work, one will look at objects in a new way at least for a while in the real world as well, as if chuckling to oneself at the “hidden meanings” that have just been revealed in them. A wheelbarrow is a vehicle for transporting away useless waste, a carrier of sorrow; an empty petrol canister an explosive base for structures; or a Marinol bottle a monument for the forsaken and miserable.
Kalkamo sees a basis for this search for combinations and excitement for it in the cut-and-paste technique of the punk style – the same one the young Kalkamo used when compiling the punkzine Hipit parturiin.
Neither does Kalkamo shy away from the excellent, meaning-changing power of changing scale, of comical exaggeration or downplay. He is also not far from seeing an object as something else, as is typical of contemporary folk artists – the same phenomenon through which a bicycle seat and bar turn into a bull’s head in Picasso’s sculpture. For Kalkamo, dried trees could be skeletons dancing ballet: La Primavera. Death is dancing for new birth, for even a dried branch still has a chance to burst into life.
All objects, just like different materials, always contain other meanings besides their utility purpose. For Kalkamo, after getting a flash-like initial inspiration, these observations may unravel and become more specific even for himself over weeks and months of physically working on the material. Just like a good metaphor or perhaps a memorable dream can feel immediately poignant and rich, only later will one be able to specify the ways in which it works and why it works the way it does.
When a flashing vision or dream is frozen into a work of art, it begins to show those serious sides of itself that are not immediately obvious. Kalkamo himself associates the deeper meaning of humour with the feeling of a dead end that permeates his entire artistic output, when “you don’t want to accept the state of the world as it is, but hang on to any spark of hope, usually the power of humour.” When one no longer has the strength to get anxious, to cry or to hate, I suppose one can only laugh.

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