Matti Peltokangas - Unelmia ja uutisia (Dreams and News)

March 7, 2013

Forum Box, 1 - 24.3

Matti Peltokangas (b. 1952) is an old fox in the Finnish art context. He is a sculptor, and has made many public works of art, monuments, coins and the likes. Dreams and News (title freely translated by me) contains both new works and older ones.
The main theme of this exhibition, and maybe his whole career, seems to be the relationship between human and nature. In this exhibition the relationship is largely presented through handicraft, and how handicraft has been our link to nature, and living in harmony with and on conditions by nature.
The largest work of art is a sailing boat, made by the artist. It looks like it could really be used. There is a video loop projected partly on the sail and partly on the wall behind, showing a fisherman retrieving his nets. The boat is a fine piece of handicraft, and the space is filled by a harmony, even though the video is quite fast-paced. The relation to nature, that has been lost for many today, becomes very clear and hands on in this installation. It also makes you think of the importance of handicraft in an earlier society. It used to be vital for people to know the art of fishing in the archipelago.
The relation to handicraft continues in the works with ladles. Peltokangas fills one wall with wooden ladles in different stages of production. Most of them unfinished. There is no scooping soup with these ladles.
Another ladle alone on a wall is almost invisible, the white and gray marble melts into the white concrete. It is so smooth, that you can not really see it is marble at first, it looks almost plastic. By using such a precious material for an everyday object Peltokangas wants to comment on the welfare state. Food for the poor is never served with a marble ladle. In another work made of marble, he wants to comment on the same issue. A cabbage is placed on a high table with a lace cloth, almost as if on a pedestal. This sculpture is, in contrary to the marble ladle, rough and the cabbage could be mistaken for a brain. I do not doubt Peltokangas broad knowledge of different materials, and I wonder why he has chosen to give this sculpture such an unfinished look. By making it the lace cloth more detailed he could, again, have connected with the handicraft of common people. This dimension in the sculpture is now lost.
A work of art where these many layers work better is the installation with axe handles, also in different stages of production, on a wall. Some of them are smeared with red painting, others fully painted, but most of them have no paint at all. The handicraft is again strongly present, while the red paint makes me think of butchering, and the common task of chopping wood. This is the only one of his older works that really caught my eye.
My absolute favourite work of art in this exhibition is a large sculpture in bronze. It is a large dried branch, covered in miniature cars. Absolutely stunning. It made me think of parasites and insects, overtaking another living being and choking it to death. Just as I have sometimes thought of human being a parasite on this earth, slowly killing her (or at least changing her and making her uninhabitable to human and countless other species).
Somehow, for me, the whole exhibition was crystallised in this sculpture. The notions of how we have lost respect for nature and forgotten how to live as a part of it. How nature gives, and we take - but we can also give back.

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