ANTTI TANTTUWoodcuts 29.10.2004 – 21.11.2004
Antti Tanttu´s figurative language of recent years has been based on bipolar perception. One element of the image is the seeking, probing lines that create a wire model for being; another are monochrome shapes that come between the lines and viewer like a cat sitting on a newspaper.
Both elements of the image could be described as incomplete in their own enigmatic way. The skeletal world of lines gropes around for that which is essential, yet emphasises seeking, suggestion and sketching. The pronounced fullness of the opaque forms is the fullness of a black hole - impenetrability collapsing in on itself. Clearly these two elements need each other.
Duality would easily lure the mind into seeing opposites in these images, as if matters such as life and death, attraction and rejection or presence and absence were to be found within, symmetrically portrayed. It might, however, be more interesting to think of these elements as two sides of the same issue - as visual contemplation in time of the various dimensions of thoughts and emotional states.
Kindly let me try to respond on a practical and more illustrative level. These images come to Antti Tanttu as a result of seeking, comparing and identifying. He often sets out with an emotional state that has a certain temporal permanence and identifiability. He must then solve the problem of how to express that particular experience of being. As a painter, his means of expression are found in a field delineated by tradition, material, skill and comprehension. All he can do is experiment, play a game in which the situation after each move must be compared to the goal - which is the same as the starting point.
Loneliness is an experience often portrayed by Antti Tanttu. His works show the multitude of forms loneliness can take on in various situations and from various points of view. Loneliness may stand for freedom as well as anxiety. It may present itself as a yearning for an all-encompassing understanding where there is no more loneliness but which can only be experienced in solitude. Or it may be the kind of loneliness felt in the midst of all-encompassing connection.
As an artist, Tanttu is motivated by the connection and intimacy he experiences when in his work - or in its various stages - he successfully captures what he had been seeking. Perhaps there is no such thing as absolute success, but like elsewhere in life, the lack of it can be supplanted by mercy.
Viewers cannot compare Tanttu´s paintings to the artist´s original emotional state but they can compare them to their personal experience of existence. And, in the same manner as Tanttu occasionally feels he has found the way almost to the end, viewers can also sense intimacy in the paintings through their own experience. At that point, they may come to believe that despite everything, there are people in this world who have similar sensations and experiences: that even in our fundamental separateness there is commonality and a wealth of experiences to be shared. The thought is encouraging, but identification alone is not enough - after all, it can be encountered at the corner shop, or by turning on the TV.
Another of Tanttu´s methods alongside aspiration is masking. Simply put, masking can be understood as a move to avoid obviousness. By masking that which is obvious Tanttu opens up possibilities. It constitutes his final move in the game, and it is up to viewers to determine what to do with the keys they are given by Tanttu´s art.