Kari Vehosalo’s (born 1982) works require a great deal of time to make. Before the brush even touches canvas a lot of thought, i.e. time, has been needed. Vehosalo no doubt thinks fast, but in such a varied, precise and critical manner that he needs more than a moment, or two.
His paintings are mostly based on photographs, from which he combines the final composition with precision and careful consideration. His technique of oil painting is also time-consuming: the works are made of several thin layers of paint and there is nothing random about them. They are technically perfect: the monochrome surfaces are completely monochrome, and the illusionistic parts imitate their subjects with astounding credibility.
At first sight, one might mistake Vehosalo’s paintings for realistic works. They are anything but realistic. A careful look will reveal that in reality – an interesting idea when speaking of an artwork – the human figures depicted in them would not necessarily even fit into the (visual) space in which they are placed. Also, the spaces shown in the work are compiled, leading to more differences with realistic representation.
This has to do with Vehosalo’s artistic strategy, having at its core the aim of a kind of momentum of alienation meant to make viewers stop and consider what they are actually seeing. This aim is supported by the grey scale of the paintings, also meant to establish a distance from realism. In the paintings, everything is ‘as it were, further away but clearer’.
These paintings are the products of postmodern ideology: ironic and playful, with beauty, horror and ludicrousness very close to each other. Everything is artificial, which of course is not just negative, for who among us would really like to meet, for example, a truly natural person?
In this exhibition, Vehosalo displays his ‘Young Adults’ series of works of cool, blasé people decorated with the symbols of power yet arousing sympathy, even pity, in their fateful spiral amidst the transformation of culture. The other series on show consists of ’Black Paintings’ in which various motifs are drowned in the darkness of thin layers of paint. The small paintings on copper are of completely new technique. Dorian Gray is a theme to which Vehosalo returns once a year, and the last example of this is on view here.
Despite its postmodern emphases, Vehosalo’s thinking has a background in the tradition of humanism, a genuine interest in man: art is transient, life is short.