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Kari Vehosalo exhibition at the Sara Hildén Art Museum

Published 5.2.2021 17.47

The solo exhibition of Vehosalo’s works is a retrospective collection of the artist’s middle period that occupies the whole museum.

Kari Vehosalo (b. 1982), who won the Ars Fennica prize in 2017, is one of the most interesting of contemporary artists in Finland. His art is rooted in reality and based on a critical examination of it. For him art means above all deliberation. Vehosalo’s works are representational, and frequently the subject is a human figure, either as an individual or as a member of a group. He sets his figures in a space as if on a stage to be examined. At the heart of his work are light and darkness and the beauty and terror of being.

The solo exhibition of Vehosalo’s works has been mounted by the Sara Hildén Art Museum in close collaboration with the artist. It is a retrospective collection of the artist’s middle period that occupies the whole museum. It offers a comprehensive overview of his oeuvre so far and also presents some new works. While the emphasis is on his paintings, there are also drawings, photographs, sculptures and an installation created for this exhibition that integrates the ensemble in terms of space and sound.

Vehosalo is interested in interfaces where the human ego is formed and sometimes falls apart, where the feminine and the masculine overlap and where a tension is created by the friction between the private and the social. In his art he seeks to combine beauty, psychopathology and the Western culture of trauma. Thus the imagery of the history of art, the concepts of philosophy and psychology and the facts and fictions of Hollywood all constitute starting points for his works.

In Vehosalo’s paintings, technical skill is combined with an imagery of cool beauty, in which a monochromatic palate lends a distancing effect to images of reality depicted with photographic exactitude. In his pictures he tends to place some disturbing element that shatters our sense of familiarity and security – and thereby summons up questions.

Vehosalo is a profound thinker and a philosophical speculator, and his polished technique is slow and laborious. Behind this there also lies an ecological ethos: to make things that are as carefully thought-out and of as high a quality possible, and as few as possible. The artist almost always bases his paintings on photographs or digital collages made from them, and the painting is often the product of numerous faultless layers of paint.

The Sara Hildén Art Museum presents Vehosalo’s major series The fear of violent death (2009–), Young Adults (2017–) and Metaphysics of Presence (2018–) as comprehensive ensembles for the first time. Also in the exhibition are Doppelgänger and Dorian Gray, key serial works covering a span of several years

This exhibition assembled by the Sara Hildén Art Museum continues the research-based presentation of artists represented in the collection of the Sara Hildén Foundation. A richly illustrated book containing articles by the philosophers Sanna Tirkkonen and Juha Varto has been published in conjunction with the exhibition.

Kari Vehosalo comes from Ylöjärvi, near Tampere. He lives and works in Helsinki.