Toni R. Toivonen: Practice of Joy Before Death
Galerie Forsblom 28.10.–20.11.2016
Opening with the artist in attendance, 27.10.2016, 17.00–19.00
The abstract images etched on Toni R. Toivonen’s (b. 1987) golden-hued brass plates on closer inspection reveal vaguely discernible imprints of raccoon dogs, horses and cattle. These imprints are inscribed on the surface of the oxidized brass through the process of decomposition; the result is the outcome of chance and the physical placement of the decomposing carcass on the plate. This unusual technique bears witness to the dissipation of matter, yet it also documents the vanishing process and captures a powerful sense of lingering presence. As a new technique, Toivonen will also present beeswax sculptures. This organic material has a luminous skin-like quality, which accentuates the corporeality of the sculpted young cattle and reindeer calves.
The artist primarily sees his work as an act foregrounding the artistic process, which in his case verges upon performance. His graphic visualization of death serves as an existential meditation on life and death, a topic he addresses – despite the grotesque-seeming technique – with a sense of calmness and dignity. Like the vanitas, a motif that has recurred in art history for centuries, his work is reminder of life’s transience. The artist sees death as the necessary companion of life, just as there would be no light without shadow – he shows us two complementary sides of what is essentially the same thing. Since becoming a father, Toivonen has also begun exploring parenthood as one of his key themes.
Toni R. Toivonen graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 2016. He won the international Art of Basware competition in 2014, and his work has been exhibited at international venues including London and New York. Toivonen is represented in collections including the Sara Hildén Art Museum, the Turku City Art Collection and the Vantaa Art Museum.