Niilo Hyttinen (born in 1940), the painter who works in Oulu
and in Puolanka, is an ardent friend of older Finnish tango. During the year
2001, he painted about ten tango classics into images, and in addition to
that he composed and wrote the lyrics for his own tango, which is the theme
song of this exhibition.
Such slow evergreens on the dancing floor as Ennen kuolemaa (Before Death),
Hurmio (Ecstasy), Kangastus (Illusion) and Tanssikavaljeeri (Dancing Partner)
were playing in Hyttinen´s studio mornings and evenings. In the quiet
hilly Puolanka landscape driving a car has often been given wings by the innocent
longing and search for happiness from the tangos from the 1950´s. Hyttinen´s
paintings, that have been named after individual tangos, are symbolic stories
about people´s need to love and to be loved. It has literally been possible
to sum up into one painting the course of one life from the womb into the
The metaphors and turns of the plots in the lyrics of the tangos are often rather naive and pathetic - which is a part of their particular charm and characteristics. Hyttinen´s concentrated way of expression gives out an unpretentiously "Naivistic" and popular air.
In addition to
the paintings with tango subjects, Hyttinen has made a series of stylised
images of fantasies from the heroes of his youth, the aristocrats of the open-air
dance floors; Olavi Virta, Veikko Tuomi and Henry Theel, and his father Arvi
Hyttinen, who was a crofter. The old guard of these magnificently-voiced men
is complemented by the "hero" of the matured Hyttinen, Reijo Taipale.
Maybe, age has had its influence on the matter, but Hyttinen confesses that
he often longs for the old times with the people particularly close to him.
He has stated in an interview, "I very much miss the deceased from the
surrounding country. They were fine people in their simple circle of living.
So, I have been wondering if I should start making new paintings about those
people now that I can still remember something." In Niilo Hyttinen´s
"Tango of the Proletariat"- exhibition the characteristically
Finnish concealed emotionality, archly humour so typical of Hyttinen, and
down to earth philosophy of life meet. Naturally, the tangos that are represented
in a visual form, are playing in the exhibition.
The rock and pop generations
that have been born after the 1960´s may perhaps not very well know
older popular music, though the Tango Festival in Seinäjoki is heaping
its own commercial and sexy tango babble every summer.
Niilo Hyttinen snaps the scratchy cassette player on, takes a little dance step and asks, "Would you like to dance with me?"