Juho Karjalainen - Finnish Printmaker
It feels romantic and nostalgic to realize, that in our age of biotechnology and digital virtual creatures, avatars and robots, the theme of Juho Karjalainens art is human body. Art expresses both skills and the way the man exists. Karjalainen is not so interested in relation between machine, technology and man, but the problem of being human being, who is occupying his mind by existential and moral questions.
Since 1978 the main theme of Juho Karjalainens prints has been naked human figure. First he portrayed female figures. These prints were described as “Sunday images” because of their harmony and balance. In some of the works, however, you could also find some aspects of confusing naturalistic fleshness.
In 1993 Karjalainen moved from lyrical female images to epic and rugged works of men. The transition happened in a time of mental crisis. The large size works became more personal, more philosophical and symbolic as never before.
Karjalainen’s way of seeing, his imagery and expression has changed during the last 40 years. The pictorial expression has become more three dimensional. At the same he has developed his drawing line to brilliancy. Typical of his work is the ability to incorporate pursuits, viewpoints and things, which at first seem to be impossible, with novel and functional pictorial entities.
Karjalainen started his career as a realist in the middle of the 70′s. After that the motive has always been just a startpoint of the work. His aim in the spirit of modernism is to construct an image on the terms of itself. The themes of his new works come from a single form idea, mood, dream or feeling derived from the subconscious.
In the middle of the 80′s the new themes entered to Karjalainen’s art; natural phenomena like clouds, thunder, rain, water and the Northern Lights followed by free, impressionistic form structure. You can even find in some of the earlier cloud images the spiritual dramatics of the 17th century Baroque period. What is the most interesting for the artist is the apparent casualness of natural phenomena.
During the last fourty years Karjalainen has explored his own aquatint method, in which the image is painted with acid on a resin grounded brass plate. He uses mainly two plates. In the 90′s he started to use colours in his prints, quite often blue, brown or red. Most of his works, however, are black and white. Karjalainens aquatint technique reminds of oriental ink painting or water colour. The aim is lightness despite the multistageous and laborious nature of the technique itself. An successful print, as the artist himself has stated, is like “the floping of wet snow from the roof in the late Winter time”.
/TEXT: Marjo-Riitta Simpanen, 20.1.2001
Copyright © Kuvien käyttö ilman lupaa on kielletty. The use of the pictures without permission is forbidden.
Photos: Kari Sarkkinen, Pekka Niemi, Kari Holopainen, R. Rautiainen, Timo Laaksonen, Leena Karjalainen & Juho Karjalainen