Interview to Special Interests 2 -magazine by Mikko Aspa, 2010
1 Has painting or visual art always been your primary interest and when did your hobby tranformed into more "serious" / ambitious approach? I took drawing seriously already as a teenager. My friends kept me mad, when I tore the failed works in fury. The actual 'enlightment' didn't happen until I got familiar with Napalm Death and Kreator. I had been listening to trash etc. before Kreator, but it had have just entertaining values. Kreator was in touch with realism and the hatred towards the system felt truthful. I realized that I can use visual means as a tool to play with my frustrations (and later sexuality) in a same manner musicians play with sounds. 2 It seems you work nowadays mainly with oil colors. What makes this preferred tool for use, what are the advantages towards other methods? You can rework with oil painting almost endlessly and if the work is well done, it stays in good condition for decades. With oil colors you can paint in great detail and create illusions of light. I worship the techniques of old masters. The acrylics lack the possibility of mixing colors with each other on canvas. You need to mix the colors separately, tone by tone, to obtain pure color tone and still, the final color can never reach the shine that oil colors have. However, the acrylics have one real advantage. You can mix it with water, no need for turpentine. I also like aquarelles, but the paper is too expensive. I have been planning of doing something with oil pastels. I am fascinated by the idea of playing with the association to drawings of children and using sexual subjects.
2b How do you feel of mixed media, of collage, mixed paints (like oil + spray + pasted on objects) etc? Some aim for not limiting their creation to reach something better, while others may believe limiting techniq will actually lead to something better? I started my 'art' with collages. First I drew, then I messed it up, cut into pieces, sometimes burned and then glued together and copied, recopied etc. to achieve a strong feeling of destruction. Cutting humans with scissors is very therapeutic, sort of visual anti-surgery and very assosiation oriented. Probably that's why surrealists favoured collages. I avoid mixing oils, spray and acrylics, because there have been certain problems afterwards. Even whole layers of colors have detached or spray has reacted with underlayer etc. There is enough fighting with oil color technicues and basicly I prefer philosophy: stick to the core. Multiple techniques tend to shatter the message. 3 Your work includes some themes and certain amount of explicitness, that "mainstream" art world would perhaps consider controversial. Do you find shock value useful, or perhaps restricting? You have had your share of "dislike" from people when your works has been exhibited. You can have a breakthrough in international art world with shocking effects. The Finnish art scene is bourgeois. Shocking content is not favored by gallerists or audience. Conventional values determine the 'good art'. 4 Your paintings has been used for example in cover of Strom.ec's album and already years ago in your exhibition soundtracks were CD's of Merzbow and Masonna played through amp. Most recent exhibition had even Bizarre Uproar doing live show in opening day. How does noise or experimental music connect to your own art, what kind of influence it brings? When I first time heard harsh noise (miscellaneous set of PURE cd's) I was really amazed. I can still remember that moment, sitting on a floor in my friend's apartment. Especially Masonna's Noisextra struck my mind. The sound of a living destruction matched my artistic aims better than anything I had seen or heard before. However I don't see that I have got influences from noise. It is too abstract music to turn into visual image. I merely try to interpret the same feeling. As a younger I took influences from the visual side of Godflesh.
4b Do you have interest in abstract? What's your view on collage/dada/suprematism and so on, various avantgarde visuals? I felt only night within me and it was then that I conceived the new art, which I called Suprematism.. wrote Malevich about the inspirations behind ''Black Square'. That painting sums up my abstract ideals so well that I feel all attemps in that field useless on my behalf. I have put a lot of thoughts on turning my feelings into abstract, but only assosiations to humans can give the needed material for my vulture character. I like avantgarde movements because there are usually some individual courage behind the action. Elements of 'not following'. I can easily identify with collages of dada and surreal artists, because of the objects of fetish desires. Matters of subconscious and dreams are fascinating subject for painting. I have written down my weirdest dreams for years and when time is right, I will paint a serie. The suprematist art hits my religious point. It was not surprise to read that Malevich placed the 'Black Square' into a place used for the main icon of the house in his first exhibition.
5 Is there specific intentions of communications in your work, beyond visual satisfaction? What you think of politically or socially motivated art, with perhaps even propaganda intentions? I exploit surrounding misery and try to pass on my feelings of ecstatic nausea and indifference. However, if the viewer is not open to such forms of ecstasy, I hopefully provide some conflicting emotions. Fine arts should not be reserved to certain means. It must be a free field, where diverse forces can operate and evolve. Political goals and propaganda intentions usually limit the artistic freedom and the outcome is seldom nothing but marketing (sometimes quite stylish marketing, thou). Leon Golub has done some interesting politically motivated paintings. I also like the repulsive works of Otto Dix and George Grosz (New Objectivity -movement). 6 How do you see Finnish art world? Do you feel you are part of it? Finnish art is rather dull and hygienic. There are far too many individuals just playing the artist role and producing crappy interior art. The handicraft skills are weak and there is no feeling of self-challenge in paintings. Foreign trends are been poorly adopted or directly copied. But there are some good painters. My work in Artist's Union connected me with Finnish art world for two years, but on behalf of my paintings I have not get connections. I have never been accepted to group exhibitions or received grants or stipends. The decision makers still succeed to amaze me with their neglect. But bitterness and occasional rush of self-pity goes well with winter weather and black metal. 6b you refer to weak craftmanship and lack of self-challenge in modern art. Can you see where it originates from? Wrong motivations, the aim for confort and easiness? Will of creating whole career in form of routine bulk: full exhibition of crap as opposed one actually good & thoughtful painting? I might say that comfort is one reason. If your life is taken from 'Friends', opening yourself to the facts of being is not an alluring option. The artist career has also become easier. Social welfare guarantees the apartment and food, you don't really need to challenge yourself, if you don't have that inner need. On the other hand, if you want money, you have to compromise with gallerists, force out some sort of recognizable style and do that routine bulk exhibition.
6c How important you rate technical skill and methods. While topic/themes/targets or intentions remain the same or related, but process is near opposite. Like for example digital tourist camera snapshot printed out on your epson inkjet, opposed to large format film done to one of the kind palladium print original? Paint-pen on the concrete "street art" vs. oil painting on canvas, etc? Do you think method can be indication of fundamental value of art, where you can easily divide some art into... lets say serious vs. hobbyist, ambitious vs. lame garbage? You can give a message with your method. One reason I started to paint with oils was the association connected to that medium. There is a nice contradiction in copying internet porn with oils, that is the instrument of FINE ARTS. I see that the most important value of art piece is the message and the better the skills are, the stronger your message is. Tourist camera reminds me of the polaroids of Nobuyoshi Araki. What a wonderful medium to express the exploitative spirit of his porn photos!
7 How do you value art education vs. learning in isolation of the teachers and other students? I have no art education, but my brother studies in Art Academy, so I have had a chance to peek into that world. Personally I would say that isolation is an absolute condition, if the artist wishes to develop her/his skills. Technical skills and knowledge can be acquired by reading books and independent experimenting. The importance of art education emerge when you are applying stipends and networking. Education also brings needed credibility among art buying people and gallerists. CV has surprisingly important role in Finnish art business. That's sad.
7b Do you think grants and government funding is something what should be guaranteed? Do you see conflicts of ideas in funding? Like supporting arts from money of people who would never want to see/experience such art? capitalist idea where good art would survive on its own on basic rules of supply & demand? Or idea that certain arts can't be valued by their financial side, but necessity for continuation of cultural life? Huh! Well, let's see.. I understand the point of view that art should keep on living from it's own merits, not from government support. In Finland that policy would practically switch off certain art scene. The cultural life would still keep going and probably develope, no doubt. The saved tax money would help in building new squash hall or something. The fact is that the group of esthetics that give art some value is very small in our country. If they manage to catch a part from the government funding is a result of darwinist fight as well. 8 How closely you study or follow art world in general, history, present day, movements, groups? Any favorites and influences? I am very interested in paintings of others and the techniques they are using. I borrow books from libraries and search from net. I don't have much connections with other painters. The images satisfy my needs. I study art movements and birth of styles, but I have always seen movements and groups as an activity of rather nonindependent personalities. Nonindependency forms an obstacle, if you aim to interpret your personal views. Art theories are something disgusting that I avoid. The American photorealism of 70's is one of my favorite movements. The painfully accurate copies of car wrecks and trash painted with airbrush show great attitude. I have collected list of photorealists' links into my site. Surrealists (Bellmer, Chirico, Buñuel, Magritte, Bacon), futurists (Boccioni) and pop-artists (Warhol, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Allen) some to mention, have produced fascinating art. I also admire the technically superb works of old masters (Rembrandt, Vermeer, Repin etc.). Japanese sumi-e ink paintings are close to perfection and the Japanese sense of style is unbeatable. In the field of new painting, I like the Leipzig and Dresden schools (Neo Rauch etc.). Richter and Helnwein are great painters from Germany, too. Erotic art from artists like Balthus and Schiele! My favorite photographers are Joel-Peter Witkin, Nobuyoshi Araki and Man Ray. Finally I want to mention Chapman brothers and their mannequins of children. 8b Sexuality, even up to blatant pornography is part of your works. Does it seem still today, that images such as your cum-on-the face close-ups, are "out of the place", when removed from context of dirty pornographic publication into walls of gallery? Should there be more mix of pornography and so called fine arts? Perhaps increasingly happens in field of photography, but perhaps not so much in painting? Yes, they are quite 'out of the place'. I have heard opinions starting from: 'art should not be depressing' to 'you belong to jail'. But then some granny surprises you by saying something really supporting. That's just great! Actually I am confused why there are not much sexuality or violence in Finnish art. Also the Finnish photographers are more into urban landscape. Or maybe I just don't understand their delicate indications = field, train, tree... The exhibition of Lahti Art school last year showed some raising interest to sexual photorealism. Anyway, I don't think that there should be more mix between porn and fine arts, if it does not evolve from personal origins.
8c Your portraits of sexuality has covered bondage, ejaculation covered faces, japanese females, and so on. How do you choose the target / theme and how closely it must be towards your own experiences, ideals, fetishes? I recall you mentioning years ago about the desires towards very mature female, the easy lust filled housewife type. While some topics attract the modern young adults, others don't. And possibly lustful depictations of elderly is something of less hyped phenomena. You intend to cover this topic during your career? The themes have always strong connection with my sexuality. They are combinations of my fantasies, fetishes and experiences or the selected image just hits me in a way I don't understand. So I try to wrap it open by painting. In my latest serie 'Untitled', I used images from digital porn videos. I watched the videos while downloading and took screen prints when the screen was just a minced mix of walls, furniture and bodies covered by random pixel squares. Three of them were from mature movies. The pornographic content was nearly lost in process, but I hope that someone catched the bliss of crushing the image with mechanism that shows no mercy to human figure. I enjoy taking sadism into abstraction. Whitehouse did that succesfully with sound.
9 What has been the most rewarding experience in your artistic career? It is always rewarding to produce an emotional reaction to viewer with painted image, whether it is admiration or loathing. BU concert at exhibition opening party and 'My Body is A Slimy Drug'-performance were nice moments. 10 What you feel about the business side of art? Is it realistic to live from painting and is it goal worth to aim for? My primary goal is to become better painter and I believe that good quality finally sells. I have already received some attention from foreign galleries. In Finland I will never live from painting. When I turned down the career of an economist, I knew that I chose economically risky way. But that was not hard decision to make since I have always been poor. Life is too short for collecting money.