ANTTI OIKARINENAn Exhibition
Works by sculptor Antti Oikarinen (born 1974) have always prompted viewers to ask: "What is this?" And every time he's producing a piece, the artist asks himself: "What is this?" The answers given to the viewers have not always been straightforward. They've had to think about what the works are about.
At the start of his career Antti Oikarinen displayed pieces that were based on scientific phenomena. Then he wanted see what was inside art, things that are expressed as concepts. Oikarinen's previous exhibition was like an artist's studio moved into the gallery: ladders splashed with paint, a brush and dustpan full of dried paint, masking tape, boxes, tools, extension cables, tins of paint and brushes, some sculpture bases and canvases leaning against a wall.
"Really? Where's the exhibition?" was the visitors' first questions as they stepped into the exhibition space, which looked like the mounting of the exhibition had been abandoned half way through. Then they thought that the roll of masking tape was a ready-made object, which had gained the aura of art as it had been placed in the exhibition space. But this wasn't all. The biggest surprise came with the realisation that the rolls of masking tape ‑ assumed to be normal ready-made rolls, were actually sculptures pretending to look ready-made.
Antti Oikarinen's latest works take these themes even further. Once again the viewers have a reason to rub their eyes. While preparing for the exhibition, Oikarinen stepped into a role of a fictional artist and created an exhibition of works that are not, well, like his own. The fictional artist has compiled an exhibition of sculptures made of every imaginable material that you could find in a skip or a workshop. The works function as an aesthetic unity; a series of artistic actions based on a certain artistic logic and intuition. The representational works are, however, just an instrument for showing what Oikarinen really wants to say.And the viewers will only find out after realising how the artist wants to deceive them with these pieces.
Nothing too much should be revealed about the works at Antti Oikarinen's exhibition, he actually wants to pull the rug from under the viewers' feet. But since there is a risk of a grand-scale art hoax, a fear that viewers will walk through the exhibition, thinking that they are watching work by some other artist than Antti Oikarinen, I think we need to give more information about the pieces. The exhibition consists of sculptures made of painted birch, even if they look surprisingly realistic; they are like sculptures made of heaps of chipboard, cardboard, battens and screw clamps. When viewers spot the hoax, they understand that the exhibition is not about the sculptures per se, but about what art is and how it is viewed. Or, more precisely: what kind of an object is a sculpture? Oikarinen is interested in questions concerning presentation and representation. This is what he's exploring in his exhibition entitled Exhibition.
Antti Oikarinen's works are about actions within art and therefore asking what can be done in the field of art. His sculptures answer the question: "What is it like to be rational in the world of art?" But in order to be able to answer this question, his art must be irrational; it must shake the viewers' sense of reality. This twist in thought is the core of his production. The trick works.