Tolerance for cultural homelessness

Architect of human mind

“As a spiritual and embodied creature human being is holistic. Things and their relations that are at the same time spiritual and material, internal and external in such and also in relation to socially perceived space  all this becomes expressed in a human being.” This is not a description of Minna Jatkola’s art but a quotation from Veikko Anttonen’s introduction to the methodological problems of the science of religion that are created by the holistic nature of human beings. The quotation might as well describe Jatkola’s large paintings, which in my opinion try to answer to the challenges described by Anttonen.

In Jatkola’s paintings subject and object, traditions and the present time, true and false, surface and depth are in many way entangled with each other. I may continue by applying Anttonen and say that Jatkola asks “how the social space and the categories of the embodied human cognition are connected to each other, how they can be seen in ritual behavior, dressing, household, the classifications of clean and unclean, decent and indecent, virtuous and vicious”.

The visual language of Jatkola’s paintings is partially based on the traditions of painting. If you wish, you can see in them reflections from expressionism, Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings or Edward Hopper’s places of loneliness and alienation  motels, waiting rooms and night cafeterias. You can also see constructive elements, which are in a rhetorically clever way related to the formation of both painting and human life.

However, Jatkola does not approach her themes through the history of art. The starting point is often “some sentence, conversation, awakening or perhaps a news paper article”. Her pictures are neither pathetical nor nostalgic. They belong to the present time, and this holds also for her visual language where you can see elements from the visual world of media and popular culture. But unlike pop art in its time and graffiti art that is now fashionable, they don’t specifically take advantage of or stand to our visual environment by being critical, ironic or admiring. Rather they are, as she has said herself, “those fragmentary perceptions from which my worldview consists of”.

Jatkola’s paintings are realistic, but not in the sense that they were recognizable pictures from a certain concrete place or situation. They create an illusion of space typical to painting, and it extends also to the social space, to the structures of being human. Jatkola is concerned with “an individual’s relation to other people  or the lack of it”. They are easy to identify with when the subject is interaction, communication, togetherness sharing and also lack of them or difficulties with them. In the artworks you can also see loneliness, separation and the uneasiness of existence, sometimes the impossibility of it. This is what the world is like. The surrounding structures are difficult to control. “The walls are not so upright as we would like” but by acquiring knowledge and by understanding better our physical and social spaces we can find more viewpoints to the visible world, contradictions included.

Otso Kantokorpi

Published (in Finnish) in a catalogue of Galleria ORTON, n:o 4, 2005

Suunnitteluhuone Pulp Oy 2005