LATE NIGHT CAPITALISM
12 November 2018, Pepino
Winter arrives and my badly isolated studio is getting chilly. I've done some good paintings during the fall and now it's time to move to the drawing table in our library room close to the fireplace. Painting is physical work, drawing is thinking. Before the shift I travel to Turku, Finland, next week for my solo show Late Night Capitalism at Makasiini Contemporary. I wrote a text for the exhibition but I'm not sure whether the gallery is going to use it.
Late capitalism exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of totalitarianism. Political power in late capitalist states involves a total rule by the market and an all-encompassing propaganda campaign, which is disseminated through the privately controlled social media marked by mass surveillance and widespread use of brain washing. Academic Roberto Colgate describes late capitalism recognizing no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and extending that authority wherever feasible.
18 October 2018, Pepino
One of my favorite lists is the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledgewritten by Jorge Luis Borges - he mischiefly attributes it to an ancient Chinese source. The list divides animals in categories: Those that belong to the emperor, embalmed ones, those that are trained, suckling pigs, mermaids, fabulous ones, stray dogs, those that are included in this classification, those that tremble as if they were mad, innumerable ones, those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush, et cetera, those that have just broken the flower vase, those that at a distance resemble flies.
The list appears in Borges' text The Analytical Language of John Wilkins published in 1942. I think it's time to update it to the 21st century and add few categories: those that are genetically modified, lolcats, anthropomorphic Disney characters, those who appear in breakfast cereal boxes, in vitro livestock, Hello Kitty and friends, pig mascots that advertise hot dogs, those that star Angry Birds video games, those that have extinguished as a result of the climate change or other human activity.
DEAR LEADERS, STAY ALIVE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
05 October 2018, Pepino
Bad Hair Day Leaders appears on the cover of Die Presse Schaufenster, a monthly supplement of the Austrian newspaper Die Presse. When the journalist Daniel Kalt contacted me, I was sure that he had heard of me from Simeon - who just made The Best of All Possible Worlds book with me - or Florian who organized my show last year in Vienna. Surprisingly, Daniel told me that he had found the works on Instagram searching things about Benin where I was in residency and Louis painted the portraits of the most powerful political leaders for me last March.
It's great that the works get media visibility but I'm getting anxious because I haven't found any option to exhibit the pictures. Sometimes it takes several years between executing a work and showing it but this project can't wait much longer. The 14 leaders are still in power but there are some that have fragile health. There could be elections, a coup d'état or a revolution undermining my work.
When some of my presidents, chancellors, supreme leaders, kings and prime ministers are out of power, the work looks inevitably outdated. There might be a period of few years that it's not very interesting but then it will gain again importance as a historical document of our time, the era of the Syrian War and Brexit, the epoch of the love story between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
02 September 2018, AY1661 Helsinki-Madrid
My gallerist Kaj asked me to stay in Helsinki and work at Riiko Sakkinen’s Drawing Room until the end of the show - two more weeks - but I didn’t even consider the proposal. I fulfilled my goal and finished over 20 drawings during the period of 15 working days. I was getting slightly exhausted in the last days but now I feel again that I’m full of energy. I love my job. I can’t wait to get back to the studio and paint big works. Unfortunately I have to take it easy and be a stay-at-home dad next week. My wife ’s vacation is over but the kids start the school a week later. The best thing is that I don’t have to travel anywhere in the next three months. When I’m rich and famous I’ll never leave the village. The three things I need my life are my art, my family and world literature. Traveling is overrated, tiring and unecological.
RIIKO SAKKINEN'S DRAWING ROOM
07 August 2018, Pepino
Riiko Sakkinen (b. 1976) is often found drawing at his desk, usually in pristine solitude. This August, however, his work will be less lonely as his studio is transformed into an open house at Galerie Forsblom, where visitors are invited to steal a sneak peek of the creative process and interact with the artist while he works, transforming the process from a solitary to a collective one. The term drawing room traditionally refers to a salon where guests are received and entertained – and this also makes a fitting description for Sakkinen’s drawing room.
What, then, is left over when art-making is stripped of its sacred aura? Throughout history, the artist’s studio has been revered as a magical, well-nigh mystical place where the occasional fortunate guest is permitted entrance for a pilgrimage to art’s altar. Sakkinen shakes off such mysticism; for him, art-making is relaxed and far from holy. The practice of visiting artists’ studios is a tradition dating back centuries, yet bringing the artist’s studio into the gallery space breaks all established conventions, making the encounter interactive in a new way.
A4-format drawings on paper are an essential medium for Sakkinen: he has done over 1,000 of them since 1999. Although large-scale works form an important part of his repertoire, his small-scale drawings are dearest to him, forming the core of his oeuvre – the rest is a mere supplement, according to the artist. His works delve into an encyclopedic array of themes ranging from contemporary consumerism, fast-food culture, and prostitution to hypermarkets and drug cartels.
Sakkinen has lived and worked in Spain ever since he graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2002. His work has been exhibited widely around the world, and his drawings are found in numerous notable collections including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the Helsinki Art Museum HAM.
The artist will be drawing at the gallery from August 17 to September 1, 2018.