26-foot Drawing Depicts a Devastated Turku
Okko Pöyliö’s body of work consists of highly detailed, skillful pencil drawings. In recent years he has been primarily working on narrative portraits with dramatic and distressing subject matters. His new work in the Takkahuone Gallery is a large pencil drawing. Instead of a person, he has given the leading role of the work to his hometown Turku. “Every city has its own personality with a variety of quirks and unique qualities,” he says. This particular work has been inspired by news of the European immigration crisis and bombings in various zones of conflict. These reports gave Pöyliö cause to wonder: What would my own home look like torn apart? Who would step up in a situation like this to take in Finnish refugees and how would I myself act when faced with such circumstances?
While Pöyliö’s earlier work has been about harsh circumstances falling on people, this new piece is about an entire city in distress. Vartiovuori is a dystopian view of Turku as might be seen from the Vartiovuori observatory. The city has been cleared of any inhabitants and its buildings are already fallen or slowly crumbling away. This grim view of a familiar cityscape turned to desolation and dust brings to mind news footage of areas where devastation like this is actually happening at this very moment. This highly detailed, massive drawing demands a closer and slower inspection. By depicting the city’s hypothetical destruction Pöyliö reminds us of its current beauty and serenity.
Okko Pöyliö set a challenge for himself when he started working on this piece. The drawing is eight metres long but the artists only had one metre of space to work with at a time. The rest of the piece was rolled up while he worked. He has only seen the finished work in its entirety after bringing it to the gallery space.
Okko Pöyliö (born in 1989) graduated from the TUAS Arts Academy in 2014. He worked as the artist in residence for Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova in 2015. The residence has been in use at Kupittaa since 2011 and houses two to five artists each year.