exhibited by Martti Aiha consist of sculptured wall reliefs and
free-standing sculptures that claim the space around them as well as
drawings and miniature sculptures. In his new work, Aiha continues to
examine the fundamentals of the visual arts in his signature style,
readily identifiable yet constantly experimenting with new materials and
methods of presentation.
The wall reliefs, done in woodcuts and acrylic paint on squares of plywood, exhibit a painting-like quality. Other reliefs consist of flatly layered acrylic sheets of various colours and shapes. The overlap of the planes and the changes of light create a painting-like impression on the surface of the reliefs. One might even say that the two-dimensional space of painting has been given a three-dimensional open structure.
In Martti Aiha´s sculptures, the spatial dimensions of the horizontal and the vertical as well as the tensions arising between these take control. Nonetheless, the sculptures refute the traditional sculptural philosophy of highlighting mass and gravity, as their airy structures mainly consist of transparent acrylic sheet, and instead underscore the qualities of immateriality, incorporeality and weightlessness. All in all, Martti Aiha in his most recent works seems to intensely draw on traditional aesthetic values and formalistic principles.
The shapes of Martti Aiha´s work describe if not outright depict the real world. The highly abstracted pieces give rise to a wide range of images despite almost always being based on a clear motif such as the human figure. The subject matter throughout is rooted in the classical. The plywood reliefs, for example, feature motifs of mother with child and nature, while the acrylic reliefs may start out with a motif such as the eye, yet appear abstract due to the large scale of the piece.
In two large sculptures he has named Vaassila, Martti Aiha addresses the personal significance to him of the Finnish national epic Kalevala, whose world Aiha portrays through his own philosophy. Vaassila Kieleväinen was a wise man and master of incantation and epic poetry from the village of Vuonninen. It was his discussions with Kieleväinen that inspired Kalevala compiler Elias Lönnrot to create the continuous Kalevala epic from the poems he had collected. The impetus to the Vaassila pieces came to Aiha through a search for his own distant family roots, a desire to walk in the footsteps of his forefathers.
Overall, Martti Aiha notes that he always needs a tangible topic as his point of departure. It is this that sets the mood for the piece. What remains in the finished work is often just this: an intense and instinctive personal experience. At the same time, Aiha´s work strongly exhibits the ornamental, flame-like living shape that has become his trademark - like the individual brushstroke of the artist.