"Just finished 12 hours of dotting and I feel faint. Finished the biggest painting and I can still move my hand."
The artist Samu Raatikainen, now living in Lincoln, England, had his last exhibition in Tampere Art Museum as a Young Artist of the Year 2003. Art critic Kari Alatalo has described his art as follows:
The painting concept of the artist Samu Raatikainen seems simple. First he decides what the external shape of the painting should be. Then he constructs the base for the painting. It can be wavy, arched, billowing, twisting, or it can consist of two parts. When the base, covered in canvas, is ready, pearlescent acrylic colour is applied to it… Next the artist uses the cut-off stem and wax-oil colour mixture to cover the canvas with equidistant dots of equal size…The challenging goal is perfect dots in perfect harmony together. (3.)
The time consumed by painting each dot, and the final result in front of the spectator, amounts to not only dots but something much more. For the artist, the time it takes to make the dots is a journey through streets and the mind… For the viewer, what happens during the hours spent working on the painting will remain a mystery. Still, anyone searching and exploring his or her own mind has the ability to immerse in the workings of the mind where a constant inner monoloque, distracted thoughts, turbulent ideas or complete calmness follow each other seemingly "amicably" although they are, in fact, symptoms of the reactive restlessness of the mind. (2.)
Raatikainen has pondered about the moment when his paintings are born. Is that the moment when his mind fixes on a certain format, the number of paintings in a series, the colours and the idea of what the paintings will look like in a certain room? Is making the panel or placing the actual dots the decisive personal element that spawns the painting? Or is the moment of birth or completion at hand only when paintings are exhibited and subjected to changes in the room and lightning which can also be noted in the paintings? (3.)
In Samu Raatikainen's work the interesting question lies in findind its meaning. Is it the process of making an endless amount of dots during a long period of time? Or when the painting is ready, put on view in the exhibition space and the viewer confronts it - making his/her own interpretation? And so on, one could continue to question. The interest in Raatikainen's work lies not only in the conceptual meaning of the process of painting, but also in the aesthetics and the sense of illusion created.
In this exhibition the front of the gallery is occupied by the paintings from the Akin and Scarp-series. The shapes of the works in Scarp-series are directly influenced by the architectural detail present in the gallery: an angle in the cross beam. The shape of the paintings contains one angle and two flat surfaces. The paintings in the series are first ones in which the shape of each painting within the series is different, whereas the colour stays the same. The newest work from the Akin-series, formed of two panels, is the biggest painting in Raatikainen's career so far (200 x 210 cm). The corridor like space in the middle of the gallery is occupied by the paintings from Loop-series. The aim of these asymmetrical paintings, placed opposite one another, is to create directional movement and subsequent momentum in the space; some taking you away, others bringing you back.
(1.) Alatalo, Kari: "Searching for the Right Position of Dots" in Young Artist of the Year 1984-2004, Tampere Art Museum Publication 116, Hämeenlinna, 2004, p. 156
(2.) Alatalo, Kari: "Man, Stick and Dot" in Samu Raatikainen Young Artist of the Year 2003, Tampere Art Museum Publication 111, Hämeenlinna, 2003, p. 24-25
(3.) Ibid., p. 27