Galerie Anhava is delighted to begin 2024 with Vesa-Pekka Rannikko’s exhibition Plenty. The gallery has been populated by exhilaratingly generous sculptural hybrids and animations that merge drawing, painting and text. Sumptuously colourful and sensorily stimulating, the exhibition seeks to dissolve boundaries between nature and the human experience to create a more holistic, multi-sensory and integrative experience. In many ways, the works dwell in borderline zones, in liminal spaces where different artforms entwine with narrative fragments and creatures drawing on both taxonomy and imagination.
In the illuminated space, a series of expressive sculptures stand on pillar-like pedestals as if scientific specimens of newly discovered organisms. With their organic and decorative forms, colourful spots, stringy feelers or tentacles, the pieces play with the limits of identification. From a distance, Rannikko’s unique sculptures seem deceptively like paintings, their rough patches of colour like brushstrokes. The new works are hybrids in other ways as well: the imaginative sculptures are playful amalgamations of elements derived from the realms of insects and plants, the representational and the abstract, the familiar and the unknown.
Both the sculptures and animations aspire to capture the momentary – the unpolished surface of the plaster sculptures reveals the immediate and rapid process of their creation, while the sketch-like impressions present in the video animations emerge while viewing: line drawings and text fragments alternately appear and linger, only to become erased or crossed out. The animated animals and insects, the drawn landscape and the atmospheric colour abstractions form layers and build up into tiny beginnings of fables. Rannikko’s narrative is fragmentary and collage-like; instead of a story, the cartoon animations delineate a collection of processes taking place at different times and on different levels.
Projected onto a canvas, the animated cartoon titled The Rat and the Border Dog was created mainly during a residency at the Saari Manor in autumn 2023. Rannikko drew its plant motifs outdoors, exposed to environmental changes in the nature areas at Mietoistenlahti around the manor. Cranes, insects and other creatures move at their own pace within the landscape, while the border dog guards a fence sliding in from the side. The work appears like an ecosystem of its own, allowing the viewer’s eye to pick out a piece here, now there. The elongated form of the stretched canvas emphasises the landscape quality of the piece: the animation resembles a window through which to touch the outside world. The soundscape of the piece is based on the human voice, and was composed and created by Sarah Albu, a vocalist based in Tio’tia:ke, Canada.
The animation Leap at the dim-lit entrance, shows an organic shape resembling a heart or a lung, projected on top of forms painted on a canvas. Within glowing fields of colour, rats leap upwards, disappearing one by one into the colours rhythmically pulsating in the dim space. A leap into the unknown, from the ground towards a vibrantly colourful, rich fantasy. Towards a liminal space, a no-man’s land, where wild rules prevail and anything goes.
Vesa-Pekka Rannikko works across a broad array of mediums: sculpture, painting, video, installation, animation and photography. He has created several large-format public works, most recently commissions for the cities of Seinäjoki and Tuusula. Rannikko has exhibited his work in numerous solo and group shows and video art festivals in Finland and internationally, and he represented Finland at the 2011 Venice Biennale. He has work in major domestic and foreign collections, including those of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Helsinki City Art Museum, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, and the Saastamoinen Foundation.
– Aleksandra Oilinki