The winner of the Ars Fennica Prize Award is Kari Vehosalo. The winner was chosen by curator Beatrix Ruf and she justifies her choice in her statement as follows:
With my intense encounters with the shortlisted artists for the 2017 Ars Fennica prize - Maija Blåfield, Pekka and Teija Isorättyä, Perttu Saksa, Kari Vehosalo and Camilla Vuorenmaa - still fresh in my mind, I must emphasize the impressively high quality of their artistic projects and the installations and displays at the Kiasma Museum
. Making the decision to give the award to one particular artist was not easy, especially considering the power of the exhibition as a whole and the interplay of the artists works in it.
Present in the work of all the artists are urgent actual conditions confronting us all with the question of identity, both mentally and physically, and ethical questions laying bare the conditions in which we all live. These confront us in carefully drafted portraits of humans and animals, radical personal exposures and ecological reflections.
Out of this group of artists and their projects I would like to highlight and award this years Ars Fennica Award to Kari Vehosalo.
While visiting his studio and seeing his installation in the Ars Fennica exhibition at Kiasma, the profound and striking experience was for me the ghostly rendering of things as we know them. Images, the history of thinking, the history of metaphor and symbol and the function of language all merge into a theatricality of disruption; in Vehosalos work, human desires in their many forms of cultural expression have become dysfunctional and are reconfigured.
The body, projections on realities, mythologies and meaning all break down, crash together and become questionable.
The medium of painting is simultaneously fetishized and dissolved through the artists precise choice of technique and homogenizing color. The simultaneous use of various artistic techniques from painting, photography and sculpture reverses carefully drafted handiwork into a non-painterly and deeply polluted experience. Everything is readable but it is exactly this misleading perfection of Vehosalos paintings, objects and installation that culminates with equal force in physical and mental violence
Images and materials decompose meaning, the production of images turns into a disconcerting, unsettling, infected and sterile appearance - and our aesthetic, as well as philosophical certainties, bounce off disingenuous beauty.
Ars Fennica is the largest visual arts award in Finland. It is presented annually by the Henna and Pertti Niemistö Foundation sr. The foundation was established in 1990 to promote the visual arts, to open up new international contacts for the Finnish art world and to encourage artists in their creative work.
The visitors have also voted for their favorite at the exhibition. The winner was Teija and Pekka Isorättyäs kinetic sculptural installation Nature Morte, 2017.