Reflection

2013

Digital print face mounted on acrylic

100x138cm

ed. 5 + 2 a.p.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transition

2013

pencil on paper

à 29,7 x 21 cm

 

 

 

 

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

2013
acrylic on canvas
27 x 22 cm

 

 

 

 

 

Transition

2013

pencil on paper

29,7 x 21 cm

 

 

 

 

Closer

2013

pencil on paper

à 29,7 x 21 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lifeblood
2013

ink & pencil on paper
140x110cm

 

 

 

 

Homage
2013
ink & pencil on paper
137x100cm

 

 

Hidden
2013
ink & pencil on paper
80x60cm

 

 

 

 

The only certainty
2013
ink & pencil on paper
110x110cm

 

 

 

 

Evening Song
2016
ink & pencil on paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am open
2013

ink & pencil on paper
147x110cm

 

 

 

 

 

Peep
2013
ink & pencil on paper
40x40cm

 

 

 

 

Cycles

2013

Digital print face mounted on acrylic

90x90 cm

ed. 5 + 2 a.p.

 

 

 

 

Hideaway
2014
ink & pencil on paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fog

Digital print face mounted on acrylic

ed. 5 + 2 a.p.

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit
acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introspection
2013
ink & pencil on paper
135x110cm

 

 

 

 

Introspection
2013
ink & pencil on paper
135x110cm

 

 

 

 

Deep Water

2011

Digital print face mounted on acrylic

45 x 65 cm

ed. 5 + 2 a.p.

 

 

 

 

Waves

2013

ink & pencil on paper

114x110cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows II

2016

acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

Void
2013

ink & pencil on paper
145x110cm

 

 

 

Shadows

2016

acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

Sentimental Fool
2013

ink & pencil on paper
117x110cm

 

 

 

 

Lights Out

2014

acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ishmael
2013
ink & pencil on paper
80 x 60 cm

 

 

 

 

Waves II

2013

ink & pencil on paper

114x110cm

 

 

 

 

 

Abyss
2013
ink & pencil on paper

 

 

 

 

 

Soft

2013

 ink & pencil on paper

110x110cm

 

 

 

 

 

Flora
2012
ink & pencil on paper
92 x 66 cm

 

 

 

 

Stripes

2014

 acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not a dream. This is actually happening
2013
Digital print face mounted on acrylic
120x80cm
ed. 5 + 2 a.p.

 

 

 

Self-Portrait
2013
acrylic on canvas
27 x 22 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Portrait
2013
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 cm

 

 

 

 

Awakening

2014

acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Little Empire catalogue

 

 

 

 

MY LITTLE EMPIRE

 

15.2 - 13.4.2014

 

Elveket, Ekenäs

Pro Artibus Foundation

 

Ville Andersson´s solo exhibition My little empire shows an imaginary art collection, which consists of works by different artists, but which is, however, assembled by one person. The fact that Andersson himself has created all the works brings an added level of excitement and fun to the collection, from the ease with which he moves from one style of expression to another and how he challenges our usual perceptions of a singular mode of artistic expression.

 

In conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, a trilingual publication My Little Empire is also published.

 

It contains , alongside the artist's own essay, Juha- Heikki Tihinen's extensive essay on the artist's oeuvre. The catalogue is designed by Chris Bolton.

 

The exhibition catalogue was chosen as one of the most beautiful books of the year 2014 by the Finnish Book Art Committee

 

 

 

ON THE WORLD OF THE COLLECTOR

 


"I have more memories than a thousand year old. " ¹


Ville Andersson’s (1986) show My Little Empire is a tribute to collectors. The artist has created his exhibition as an imaginary collection, which shows the different preferences of the collector, but which, however, can still easily be perceived as being centered around the tastes of one person. This in turn has caused Andersson to create works in many different styles, in order to give us an illusion of a such a multidisciplinary person. When we walk through Andersson's exhibition, we become familiar with the progenitor of this unknown collection, whose variety of desires and preferences we get to know through the objects on display. After our visit, the collector's character and personality and his desire-economy should be familiar to us . But how does this relate to the notion of artistic style and temperament, whose individuality and it's identification is a common notion today. By this, I mean that this artistic style would be so singular and so personal, that it would allow me to identify Ville Andersson as securely as through his fingerprints or his signature. But before commenting on the truthfulness of the argument, I'll ponder more generally on collectors, collections and their inherent relationships.


"He had selected for the diversion of his mind and the delight of his eyes works of a suggestive charm, introducing him to an unfamiliar world, revealing to him traces of new possibilities, stirring the nervous system by erudite phantasies, complicated dreams of horror, visions of careless wickedness and cruelty. " ²


The above quote is from J.-K. Huysmans' (1848-1907) cult book Against The Grain (1884), in which an aesthetic archetype is established through Jean des Esseintes' character. His enthusiasm for collecting is directed in many various directions, including the visual arts, which is firmly on the shopping list. The main character wants to stand out from the masses by the means of his taste and retrieve thus his nobility in a world that democracy has deflated. After its publication, des Esseintes came to be a character adored by many, for example, even the master of style himself, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), who felt that the book and its main character had changed his life. Wilde, like des Esseintes, saw a sense of style as essential, as it is was a last means of including oneself with aristocracy in a world which was becoming more and more democratic. This was later seen by the author Susan Sontag as an embodiment of the tradition of Camp and Aestheticism, and a new way to perceive the aesthetic value of works of art. Des Esseintes sketches through his art collection a historical background for Symbolism, as Goya and El Greco are elevated to a similar importance as Gustave Moreau (1828-1898) and Odilon Redon (1840-1916) as progenitors of pre-Symbolist art.


Looking at Ville Andersson's collection My Little Empire, Huysmans portrait of the collector is evoked in my mind time and time again. Andersson has created a fictional collection of varied works that reflect on the variety of aspects and preferences of it's collector. That kingdom is the collector's world, which he changes according to his liking, and which he dominates like His Majesty The Baby. Mirrored various aspects of the collector's personality and the articulation of something very personal are common psychological ways of explaining the mentality of the collector. The sublimation of desire, immortality and the disclosure of personality are also popular ways of explaining the desire to collect. Andersson's collector cannot be explained away through rapid diagnosis, but the issue at hand deals rather with a fascination in a variety of things and phenomena. Eclecticism isn't necessarily synonymous with bad taste, but rather open-mindedness and fundamentally radical, vehemently at odds with the harmonizing and tame notion of what is perceived to be good taste. Trying to define good taste in integrated and logical terms does not necessarily do justice to that concept, but makes it more one-dimensional than it is. Perhaps good taste is a similar pious wish as a sound and balanced ego? Reaching these ideals is not realistic, but rather self-deceptive, wherein we try to make our lives "easier " by creating a "more positive " self-portrait, which does not include wrinkles or stains.

 

"Oh, shock of hair! In tangled locks you descend like a rapid down the neck!" ³


Ville Andersson creates worlds that comply with his own laws; worlds where texts, photographs, paintings and drawings are juxtaposed, and create a mysterious hiding place, where, according to the artist's own words, "Everything revolves around the multi-layered and mutually connected relations of things " And Andersson continues:
"Ghosts from the past and the ruins of history are a part of me, always present in the present. History makes a man, not just the opposite, and it is present in even the smallest detail, in the broad weave of history, in the dictionary and the links of the chain."

 

Andersson is one of those artists who doesn't limit themselves to a single medium, but uses a variety of techniques of contemporary art in his own way. He has justified his work by explaining that he draws only after he is tired of photographing, and vice versa. The contents of the works, and their technical qualities, also seem to mirror each other in some mysterious way. He is no longer attached to the Modernist ideal of the purity of an art form, when the most prominent feature would be to find one strong essential technique for whatever medium he is working in, and then stick to it. His kind of artist rather does what he pleases, and the end result always bears the mark of its creator, in this case Ville Andersson.

 

But are there numerous Andersson's or can a continuing fascination with similar themes be found within his work? Does he have an artistic temperament? This last thought is very popular, although it is really quite odd. Should one supposedly always be interested in the same thing and act in a similar manner?! Andersson has actually talked about how important it is for him as an artist to work in as many different ways as possible. To draw, photograph, write or paint, whichever feels best at any given time, but he also enjoys the variation provided different modes of work. But if you, as an outsider, would like to define Ville Andersson's artistic program briefly, and even in one term, I would suggest ambivalence. I believe this is because he creates works whose mind and interest are precisely ambivalent in the way that the same work seems to send different meanings in completely different directions. In this context, it is also useful to think about the logic of sleep. In dreams of the strangest transitions seem quite reasonable and won't be questioned before one wakes up.


"Nature is a temple where living pillars fumble for words" ⁴


A large part of the artist's most recent, and older work, is dominated by black and white, gray, whiteness or blackness. This monochromatic nature can create an impression of melancholy. Andersson doesn't deny this serious-mindedness, but writes, for example, the following about his artistic work : " At a time when seriousness has become a target for distant laughter, I did not count the time, and I did not give you a certain framework. " Paul Gauguin wrote the following about colour in the 1890s: "Colour, like music, is all about vibrations, achieves it's most common and most difficultly defined characteristic through nature: it's own inner strength." ⁵ This monochromatic nature relies most strongly on the fact that one colour alone is enough. White is interesting even if it is only white, and so on. Andersson's works rely on the fact that even today, there are people who care to look, and do not seek instant visual gratification in the form of easy comprehensibility.


In some of the drawings the form and content fuse together, and the viewer cannot perceive the crux of the work at first glance. These are hidden images, or if we desire to follow the mode of aestheticism I mentioned earlier, we can say that we are dealing with mysterious art. Mystery, or secrecy, characterizes this artist's works as such. They portray dramatic events, or at least create a strong impression in the viewer that something is about to happen sooner or later. It is reminiscent of staring into a dark forest, which is a space that is hard to grasp, and in which any kind of danger may be lurking. In this respect, I cannot stop thinking about Lars von Trier's film Antichrist (2009 ), where the forest is something where unresolved things happen. While looking at the film, the viewer is constantly aware that something is going to happen, but what? Looking at Andersson's works, the experience is like that of watching a movie, but one where a whole series of images is packaged into a single image, which is, however, crammed to the rim with a narrative and densely populated by different images. In other words, the works have a substantial structure that feels like a narrative, but a plot that can only guessed at, because it is not at all clear, but rather ambiguous and allusive. Maybe this is something that the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty meant as he spoke of Cezanne 's early works as 'painted dreams'. ⁶ Works, that had their starting point in emotions, and were designed to evoke emotions.


Mist is one of the artist's favored ingredients. Mist, as a material that both influences and devours colour, is also a transformative element that affects distances or spatial dimensions. In the Chinese tradition, a cloud or fog area acted as a dividing line between various regions of the image, and created the illusion of perspective in a different way than in the western tradition. Mist is also an element that speaks of the filmlike nature of Andersson works, of how a temporal dimension has been created in a single view, for example, by means of the mist, which can appear and then disappear. Temporality is one of the most intriguing questions in Andersson's ouevre. What time does he move in, or does he move in the unconscious, where time is not known? Some of his work draws heavily from the tradition of Symbolism, but these references are then again linked to the marvelous world of Japanese pop music, comics, new wave cinema, or, say, even Andy Warhol.

 

Andersson, through his vast array of interests, shows a genuine collector's love that adores all kinds of things, be they new, old or previously unseen. This is reflected, for example, in those works in which he has varied his style after the first version, making the next one different, but still intrinsically related. Just as a look-alike, which springs back to my mind when I see how the variations of the artist act according to the same logic, but each creating a unique melody, just like Vinteuil's sonata in In Search of Lost Time, where the effect on the main character is dazzling. Like Proust, Andersson combines a variety of themes and creates his own world, his own small empire, in which the real and the mythical intermingle. In this fascinating moment the viewer is given the opportunity to look on himself as an outsider, assisted in this by art, which acts like a fantasy twin. ⁷ This moment of experience, coloured by outsiderness, is reminiscent of Proust's idea of that melody, and it dramatizes or brings out the fundamental strangeness of looking in the mirror. I'm over there, but I'm not, so who's that and who am I? The collector and the artist are both equally the end results of their collections, and not only unambiguous creators, but also products of their varying desires. In this misty game each double is just as real as the "real and true" self. Art and life merge in a similar manner that fantasies and their interlinking wishes join with each other. This is that own private little empire that everyone fancies.

 

Juha-Heikki Tihinen, 2014

 

 

Literature:
Baudelaire, Charles , 2011: The Flowers of Evil. Finnish interpretation by Antti Nylén. Sammakko, Turku, Finland.

Gauguin, Paul , 2011: Notes on Colour. In the work in "Art in Theory 1815-1900: An Anthology of Changing Ideas" . Edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood and Jason Gaiger. Blackwell Publishing , Oxford.

Huysmans, J.-K. 2005: Vastahankaan (Against the Grain). Translated and annotated by Antti Nylén. Desura , Helsinki, Finland.

Merleau - Ponty , Maurice 1945/2012: Cezanne's Doubt. In the work Philosophical writings. Edited and translated by Micah Luoto and Tarja Roinila. Nemo Publishing Company, Helsinki, Finland.

Tihinen, Juha- Heikki 2008, The Blurring the Lines of Desire: On the representations of masculinities and femininities and the creation of the self in Magnus Enckell works. Art historical studies 37 Society for Art History, Helsinki.

__

¹ Baudelaire 2011, 221.

² Huysmans 2005, 112.

³ Baudelaire 2011, 77.

⁴ Baudelaire 2011, 29.

⁵ Gauguin 2011, 997.

⁶ Merleau-Ponty 2012, 118.

⁷ See Tihinen 2008: 118. I present the idea, that the art lover (for instance, collector) and artist share a common ability or desire to play with identity and fantasy in relation to works of art. Thus a work of art becomes a kind of psychic mirror, through which the subject can create a "truth" about himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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