Ari Pelkonen: Remain a Stranger


Esteemed printmaker Ari Pelkonen presents his first video piece from 2014, Remain, in the Takkahuone gallery.

Pelkonen has developed a stylized aesthetic through his work with woodcutting and painting. His works incorporate the strengths of both techniques: the spontaneity, speed and haphazardness of painting as well as the slow focus of woodcutting.

Ari Pelkonen: Remain, 2014. Still image from video.

Pelkonen is an explorer of people. His works reference posing, the traditions of portraiture and the many facets of identity. Pelkonen creates images of quiet figures that are often hiding away or sneaking glances at the viewer. Still, they remain out in the open and readily available for the eye to consume. The artist repeats themes of loneliness, incompleteness and human growth.

The name of the exhibition, Remain A Stranger, is in reference to alienation. The video is two minutes long, but its hypnotic aesthetic demands the viewer’s time and attention. The images are filled with symbolism as well as a dreamlike, intense and dramatic atmosphere. The lack of audio adds to the visual power of the piece.

Material and technique are at the core of Pelkonen’s art every bit as much as the subject and theme. The elements, figures and framing of the video “Remain” point to the artist’s earlier works. The video’s pace and motion, with its painterly quality and slowness of a woodcut image, are also born out of the artist’s methodology.

“The fundamental materials of my video work are the same as with my works that combine woodcutting and painting – carved wood, water, ink, fabric, the components of starch, black and white,” Pelkonen explains.

Pelkonen’s first video work brings him out of his comfort zone. This new experiment was spurred on by a change in working space, which allowed the artist the opportunity to shoot video in an empty studio. He describes the process as an exciting and inspiring way to alter his perspective:

“Going through this change and examining these different sides and methods reveals something new, important and intriguing about the way I work. What remains, though, is always something recognizable and unique.”

Pelkonen finds a lot in common between moving pictures and his other works:

“Portraits, mirror images, photos, scavenged pictures and excerpts of the constant visual stream of social media are all tools and material for my work. My process of placing the same impression on a slate of wood dozens of times over can be seen as something similar to a serialized or moving image.”

Ari Pelkonen (born 1978 in Pori) lives and works in Helsinki. He has studied visual arts at the Turku University of Applied Sciences Arts Academy and graduated with a master’s degree in visual arts from the Helsinki Academy of Finer Arts in 2006. He has held several solo and group exhibitions in Finland and his works are included in a number of museum collections. Pelkonen was awarded the Young Artist of the Year Award in 2006. He currently works as an acting teacher in both print and woodcutting at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Ari Pelkonen in front of his video Remain in Takkahuone Gallery. Photo Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova, Jari Nieminen.

Ari Pelkonen, still image from video, Remain, 2min (loop), 2014.
Ari Pelkonen, still image from video, Remain, 2min (loop), 2014.