The solo exhibition Flora & Fauna (and some drawings, too) by the Swedish sculptor Roland Persson is shown at Helsinki Contemporary between 6 – 29 April. Persson is known especially for his numerous public commissions and silicone sculptures that he casts on real plants and stuffed animals. Growth and decay are in battle in the sculpture installations of the exhibition: flora spreads into the gallery space from a tipped bathtub in Mouth of Medusa, and the roots of a magnificent cactus in Intimate Distance penetrate their way through anything.
The exhibition includes a series of large, plant-motif drawings that resemble botanical illustrations. Countless dots of ink draw the image slowly to an opaque, waxy paper as if it was tattooed to skin. Although this meditative working method balances the pervasive physical nature of his sculptures, Persson describes drawing as the starting point to all his work. Drawings are like letters for the sculptures: explanations for things we can not explain.
In his practice, Persson looks at our charged ideas and expectations of nature, and is interested in the ways of describing and understanding nature in relation to feelings, fears, politics, sexuality and death. Rather than of nature, his works can be seen as representations of being human.
"It may sound strange, but to me this approach to nature through the unnatural – that is, through silicone – and to use assumptions of nature as an enormous playground, gives space and the opportunity to approach something that is non-verbal, mysterious and extremely essential”, Persson explains.
Flora & Fauna (and some drawings, too) plays with the viewers’ expectations and assumptions, and disturbs them. The works lead the viewer to a utopian, absurd reality which nevertheless holds something mundane and recognisable. Reality recurs in extreme accuracy in these silicone-cast sculptures which, thanks to their material, also seem uncanny. This estranged, crooked reality appears even more real than its original, authentic and personal at the same time.
Roland Persson (b. 1963) lives and works in Stockholm. His works were first seen at Helsinki Contemporary as part of the exhibition Animal Farm in the autumn of 2016. Flora & Fauna (and some drawings, too) is the artist’s solo debut at the Gallery. Persson’s works have been exhibited across Europe, including the Nordic countries and Russia, as well as in Asia. In Finland his works have also been seen in the Amos Anderson Art Museum's joint exhibition with Andreas Eriksson in 2012. Persson has made numerous public works in Sweden, such as Untitled in the Umedalen Sculpture Park, and most recently, Rinnande mönster in the city of Örebro. His works can be found in the Finnish collections of the Amos Anderson Art Museum and the Saastamoinen Foundation, as well as numerous international collections.