The Inexistent Karelia of My Memories
Not Any Closer, until 30 September 2012 in Gallery Sculptor
Art. A low-tuned lute plays a melancholy tune by itself. The heavy notes echo like raindrops in the gallery where everything is dead and monochromatic. The twigs of dry pinewood are pale and grey, like bones gnawed by the wind, a skull stares from a tangle of roots. The Karelia of memories has seldom seemed so bleak.
The Finnish debut exhibition of Helena Mutanen (b. 1965) is gripping. Mutanen is the daughter of a family that relocated from Karelia to Sweden, where she was born and raised. In the exhibition in Gallery Sculptor, she searches for her roots which she has only heard about in her mother's sad stories. The title of the show, Not Any Closer, suggests that she does not wish or is unable to go any further than this.
The symbolically charged installations in the gallery create an atmosphere that is simultaneously distancing and oddly prosaic – a world in which reality is inseparably entwined with dark images. The works communicate a sense of homelessness, but also a sense of belonging to a place the artist has visited only in her imagination.
In the exhibition, brains, entrails and charred hearts are transformed into grotesque symbols of an identity in search of its place, while also imparting a measured intensity to the subtle and reserved installations.
An impressive show which gives hope that Mutanen would continue her quest in Finland also in the future.
Helsingin Sanomat / Helsinki Times Sept 2012