Vesa-Pekka Rannikko
Bird and Library
25 Sep – 15 Nov 2009
Vesa-Pekka Rannikko’s exhibition Bird and Library is based on the Viipuri Library (1927–1935) in Vyborg designed by Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) and the sculpture Elk (1928) in front of it by Jussi Mäntynen (1886–1978).
The creative work of Alvar Aalto and Jussi Mäntynen both stemmed from Finnish nature, both in its own way. They are very different both visually and in terms of their underlying thinking, although both represented the Finnish nationalist ideology of their time, just as works based on the Kalevala did.

Vesa-Pekka Rannikko (b. 1968) has roots in Turku. He studied architecture initially, but soon moved to the University of Art and Design to study ceramics and glass design. He subsequently graduated also from the Department of Time and Space at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. It is therefore only natural that Rannikko works with equal facility with sculpture, painting, performance and spatial media. The artist is famous for works made of tinted plaster. They can be viewed as two-dimensional paintings, although they are actually three-dimensional sculptures.

Vesa-Pekka Rannikko is intrigued by the transformation of the Viipuri Library. During the Continuation War, the building that represented extreme order turned into a place of total chaos. Over the decades, the house fell into decay.
The white cube in the Studio is pristine on the opening night, but during the exhibition period there will be an intermittent current of air in the space, changing the shape of the piece. The sheets of paper on the white cube are held in place by a concrete paperweight. The artist has borrowed architectural details from the Viipuri Library for his work, including the famous bird, from the ceiling in the reading room.
Rannikko says that he chose white sheets of paper as his medium, because it is one of the most common things people hold in their hand. A4 paper is also perhaps one of the most common standardised elements. It is perhaps difficult to call a sheet of paper an object, because it seems so much like a two-dimensional surface. Rannikko says he thinks about the base of the work, the stack of paper, also as a void – a potentiality comparable to air and thinking.

A copy of the statue Elk by Jussi Mäntynen can also be found in the Kupittaa Park (1969) in Turku. Outside the Turku Art Museum is Mäntynen's fountain Swans (1958), and inside the museum there is a gallery that houses the sculpture collection donated by Jussi Mäntynen to the City of Turku. In the room with Jussi Mäntynen's work, there is also a sculpture by Rannikko, in which an unfinished, naturalistic lynx is emerging from a cube.
The exhibition is an excellent combination of Jussi Mäntynen's aim of realistic depiction of nature and Alvar Aalto's approach for creating a modernist building. In Aalto's architecture all details are meticulously planned to ensure that the work reflects the experience of nature. The presence of nature is imitated in Rannikko's exhibition by wind. Surreptitiously, almost imperceptibly, it alters things. In a video that is a kind of culmination of the exhibition, the artist has recorded wind. A jackdaw flees from its nest in the wind.

The exhibition is supported by Map Suomi Oy.
Turun taidemuseo, Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku, Puh. 02 2627 100. © 2014