Page 28 - Matti Kalkamo / RAW
P. 28

Public works
At the intersection of social consciousness, visual efficiency, popularity and often also witty insight lies a good old means of communication called poster. Kalkamo has recently started implementing wall-hanging works recycling old themes into new ones in traditional poster size together with a graphic designer. Impactful wall pictures based on visual or verbal humour may also bring new associations to things and pictures we used to think of as familiar and previously seen, which amuses us and later gives us pause for thought. The Finnish word for poster, juliste, is linked to declarations, publicity and even impertinence. In that sense, too, they are a Kalkamo-style way of creating art. An essential characteristic of Kalkamo’s art is its initial approachability; it immediately sticks in our face what genre is being utilized. You can instantly see something in the works at least about “what it represents”, “where it was taken” or “what it refers to”.
Such communicativeness can even be exceptional within the current sphere of visual art, where it sometimes feels like only that which requires explanation is deep, and the deepest of all is that which cannot be unravelled into separable meanings – the unexplainable. Obviously not all of Kalkamo’s thoughts behind his works can be understood by the viewer, but hearing or reading them could hasten the understanding. Yet even without this information a Kalkamo-style work can act as a process that deepens thought and creates new layers; after all, the association structures linked to it by the artist always exist and are visible in it.
We also need to keep in mind that of all the genres of visual art, sculpture has probably been most closely operating within the field of maximum publicity; for a long time, sculpture has been the most public form of art. Sculptures are big and have usually stood in the most crowded places, where they can be seen as far as possible. At the end of the day, statuettes have been mere side paths in the broad history of Western sculpture.
Therefore, it is no wonder that Kalkamo, who identifies with the genre of sculpture, has also created many works of public art. In public art, approachability and likeability are not bad things, but it is even better if there is also an idea behind it, even some sort of discernible message.
One might think it a bit strange that Kalkamo created a large work for the new Hämeenlinna police headquarters, Miekkalinna. The colourful birds of Tres Colores are scattered everywhere inside the building’s lobby and all the way outside, cheerful, on display, lingering to be watched. They are also all different from one another, each a unique personality, and they do not easily fit species categorization. Free-flying birds do not recognize boundaries – except when they are caged. The likeability in the work hides many ulterior motives.
Jumppahuiti, the character spinning around in an energetically funny way in the sculpture outside the sports-oriented Sampo comprehensive school in Tampere has received an uninvited guest: a little skulker with a ladder has pushed his way onto a public sculpture to admire the view. This is a work of art within a work of art.
The various foods cast in bronze with their weird combinations at the Takahuhti school are certainly jocular, perhaps even quite silly, but at some point, surely also thought-provoking: what can man eat, what may man eat, what should man eat?

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