Veikko Hirvimäki: On Thin Ice
Galerie Forsblom March 10 – April 2, 2017
Opening with the artist in attendance, March 9, 2017 at 5.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Veikko Hirvimäki (b. 1941) creates wooden sculptures and combines them to form installations serving as a reminder of nature’s vulnerability. His art expresses a grave concern about the environmental crisis and the future of our planet: the exhibition’s title can be interpreted as a reference to the risky predicament of humankind and the animal kingdom, which both literally skate on ever-thinning ice. Hirvimäki also sees the title as a reference to his northern roots. The artist plucks ideas for his sculptures from Finnish vernacular tradition: his mystical sculptures are populated by wolves and frogs that look like contemporary remakes of ancient sacrificial statuettes or amulets. Steeped in the animistic legacy of the far North, his sculptures carry a reminder of a time when humankind lived in harmony with nature. Despite their thought-provoking themes, his works nevertheless convey a warm sense of humor.
Hirvimäki’s animal figures have a bizarre, estranged quality, yet they possess endearing qualities with which viewers can easily identify. The creatures seem to have a will of their own: they protrude from the wall as if they were real animals leaping into their natural habitat. Visibly pitted with chisel marks, their rough, unfinished surface is coated with a lively layer of paint. The artist also uses materials found in nature, giving a new life to gnarled tree trunks and wood knots that provide visual inspiration for the form of the sculpture.
Originally a painter, Hirvimäki achieved acclaim in the 1980s with his stone sculptures. Around the arrival of the 2000s he abandoned informalism in favor of animal motifs. Hirvimäki’s sculptures are found in many of Finland’s leading public collections, such the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and the Saastamoinen Foundation Collection. The artist lives and works in Ballaigues, Switzerland and spends his summers at his studio near his childhood home in the municipality of Petäjävesi.