SAMPO APAJALAHTI: MAALAUKSIA JA PIIRUSTUKSIA (”PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS”)
Paintings of observations, tags, abstractions, and spaces
Sampo Apajalahti’s exhibition is called Maalauksia ja piirustuksia (Paintings and Drawings), which might seem rather insignificant, but not for him. But why not? The reason is that the artist has to name his work as paintings and talk about their technique, because otherwise people will not understand that they are looking at paintings. This is because in photographs Apajalahti’s paintings look misleadingly digital, and yet still his art is strongly attached to the practices and materials of painting.
The artist describes his working process: “My painting process can be described as slow & troublesome, and it contains several different stages. My paintings are based on precise observational drawings, and the observations I have made I transfer to a larger canvas by using specific calculations. The sharp lines discovered in my paintings, similar to the ruler lines in observational drawings, are made by taping. The colors and values I usually make up my own mind.”
In other words, the starting point of the artist’s works is in the observation, where he transforms his drawings into model pieces by taping on the painting bases. The method used creates an association with hard-edge concretism. Apajalahti adds various elements to the painting and favors, for example, immersion in the picture, in which case the viewers find themselves at the edge of a work that moves within the picture-in-picture tradition.
In his latest exhibition, Apajalahti manages to combine different materials. His paintings show traces of childhood drawings, sticky notes, graffiti as well as signs of a profound interest in the abstract modernism of the 1970s and 1980s. Alongside the parallelism of subjects, the artist also creates temporal assimilations, because a work that looks like a digital residue in a photograph is, in its strongest possible sense, a painting in nature. The Trompe oeil tradition in the artist’s work gets its update to the post-internet age. Reality is about creating an illusion, and Apajalahti masters this skill.
The art of Sampo Apajalahti is a picturesque reflection that speaks to both the eyes and the soul. His works build bridges between emotions and insights, and in addition they tell about the perception, experience, and perceptual vitality of painting in the 21st century. Apajalahti creates picturesque spaces where you can sense and enjoy, but also learn. His works must be met on the spot, as their character is not transmitted virtually.
Paintings and Drawings is Sampo Apajalahti’s (1980) eighth solo exhibition. The artist made his debut in 2008. Apajalahti studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki and the Pekka Halonen Academy. His works are in Kiasma, the Finnish state and private collections, among others. Sampo Apajalahti is a member of the Finnish Painters’ Association, Osakunta Forum Box, Kuvasto, Järvenpää Art Society and Sipoo Artists Association.
The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland and VISEK.
HANNA VIHRIÄLÄ: G-MERSU
My exhibition is built around the Mercedes Benz G model.
My thinking has been guided by my own
balancing between wanting and giving up,
but also, observations on what is morally acceptable in our society to strive for and
what is just embarrassing.
Perhaps the adjective that best describes the Mercedes Benz G is nonsense.
Mercedes’s G model is an outrageously expensive special SUV,
that can access terrain that seem impossible to drive through.
If I could choose any car, I would like to have this one.
“The angular and square Geländewagen has hardly changed externally since the 1970s.
Heavy, vaulted doors must be pushed shut with force
and the snap of the central locking system sounds like the loading of a rifle.
If you have the money and the climate doesn’t interest you a bit,
the car also comes with a 577-horsepower G63 AMG.
With the power of the double-turbocharged V8, the insane street roller accelerates from zero in 4.4 seconds. That alone feels like
it’s against the laws of nature. A hundred-kilometer ride wastes
more than a few buckets of gasoline, and carbon dioxide emissions are measured in tens of kilograms.”
(HS 27.4 2019)
A car worth € 250,000 is not possible for me – for very few it is.
When I made my first observation of the Mersu G model and realized what an iconic car it was, a whole worldview and its proportions oozed into my consciousness.
There is no real reason to look at absurd facts about a product
sold mainly to sheikhs, rap artists and the armed forces,
and at the same time want it for yourself.
Why do I think it would be important to drive a car through waist-high snow all the way to the top of the mountain?
Why would that be relevant to anyone in civilian use?
In my own, rather middle-class, environment, no one questions
that regular repayment of a mortgage would not be more important than
helping an unknown person in need or securing the future of the environment.
There are things whose imbalances I recognize
but these are not usually pondered at a vegan, post yoga class, breakfast.
Opinions exist and are shared,
and I’m not saying I’m not afraid of losing my face in my own community.
I suspect that I am even more afraid of my own blindness.
The Mercedes G, made up of mourning straps, is a temple, a dream and an illusion.
The idea of a car does not contain any of my own values, let alone the realities of my life,
but something of the spiral of desire is condensed into it.
Maybe someday I will get a chance to at least drive the car of my dreams.
It’ll most likely be great.
Do I feel then that I can do anything?
Obstacles disappear, anything is possible.
Is my worldview such that material does not make you happy,
but it surely helps?
All the flower bulbs I ordered from the Netherlands,
my children’s hobbies and mine,
my dog’s special diet,
meditation retreat and owner-occupied house,
ecological “party mix” training pieces for cats.
Mercedes – Benz G,
powered by gasoline,
the price in 2021: 242 545, 01 €.