At the last Chart Art Fair in Copenhagen, Vesa-Pekka Rannikko (b. 1968) displayed a series of sculptures of dyed plaster. At the time he wrote:
’I still regard abstraction to be a radical form of art. Although it has its own history, it has not lost its topical nature, and it still has the attraction of utopianism, freedom and independence. To keep to abstraction means to remain beyond control. Although it cannot be viewed purely in terms of its early revolutionary idealism, its outsider role and distancing function make it a topical alternative particularly in relation to the growing visuality and amounts of information in our surroundings.’
The works in the present exhibition are a continuation of Rannikko’s exhibits at Chart. He has now cut earlier works into pieces and cast new ones from them so that parts of an older work may be included in several new ones. The oldest included parts of works in the exhibition are from 2005.
The pieces are made by casting dyed plaster into flexible moulds and embedding parts of earlier works in them before the plaster has set. The solids created in this way are then combined with each other with new castings. The cast form is a single physical recording of the empty space delimited by the mould and of the material of the mould. The superimposed layers of colour of the piece tell of its chronology: of casting, the embedding of parts from earlier works and the new casting. The roundness and infiniteness of the forms of Rannikko’s works lead the viewer’s gaze around them, placing them in the areas of both the gaze and the corporeal senses. Colour is perception and space but also the movement and time needed for viewing.
Rannikko’s works seek to refer only to themselves and the process of making them. Nonetheless, the common denominator of all the piece is to address the question of how an abstract work of art will inevitably gain meanings also from beyond itself. It is thus possible to aim at abstraction, but the results will always acquire narrative features through references, the process of making the piece or for instance the personal history of the artist or the viewer.
In addition to the above series of works, the exhibition includes the projected drawn and animated video Everything Else (2018).
Vesa-Pekka Rannikko’s video works are characterized by associativity: combinations of the artificial structures of society, authentic experience and imagery related to nature. They apply as their means of narrative the whole visual surface, thus borrowing their simultaneous manner of representation from collage and comic strips, among other sources. The essential aspect is the combination of layered time on the visual surface with the linear manner of viewing the image.
Everything Else is an animation, in which the work is being made while it is displayed. It is thus an image of the process while at the same time a narrative following its course. The animated video includes handwritten text that is prepared like the drawings as the piece is displayed.
This work is based on Rannikko’s artist residence period in New York in June 2017. It takes as its starting points the fictive nature of New York as based on films and television series, the African-American culture of Harlem, the art and museum world of New York, and the Bronx Zoo.
With thanks to: VISEK, The Foundation for the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, Art Promotion Centre Finland