In his subjects, Viljo Pertola (b. 1997, Turku) dives into history, different cultures and the diverse imagery of our time. At the same time, he reaches out to the present. The web of images is woven by tertiary-period spiders and the artist’s hands. The stories are interspersed with the details of a family portrait painted with a sharp wooden stick.
Concerning the magical realism of the work Adoptioperheemme [Our adopted family] (2023), Pertola says: “The snake in the picture, the eastern indigo snake, lives in the USA. It is non-venomous. The snake is receiving baby birds whose parentage is unknown. A classic sofa pays homage to old traditions.” On the sofa is a bandura, a Ukrainian folk instrument.
The works are rich in imagery, combining drawing, painted surfaces, parts of product packaging and comic strips and text cut from newspapers. The parallels between text and image are insightfully humorous. The combination of borrowed images and his own expression reveals Pertola’s personality: as an artist he is a skilled, benevolent and uncompromising aesthete.
Most of the works in the exhibition are imaginative collages created in mixed media. Although his works depict landscapes and interiors, the overall impression of the composition is flat and layered. The works are like palimpsests, ancient recycled scrolls on which overlapping stories from different ages have been written. In a palimpsest, time levels are mixed together, just as they are on bulletin boards that have a life of their own. Pertola’s works have ragged layers, and some of the paintings have been executed in the same way, both revealing and concealing.
Pertola has taken it upon himself to look after all the things that people reject and throw away. From all these ‘curiosities’ that he collects, which are rarely visible, he conceives his works. Even the colours used in the works are remnants of palettes used by others.
Pertola’s expression is influenced by his admiration for ‘Japonisme’, the love of Japanese style. Landscapes, composition, a flattened spatial impression and ethereal drawing style all evoke a light Japanese woodcut and the tradition of scroll painting. Some of the works combine characters from manga comics, and the colour scheme mixes more traditional muted colour harmonies with clean pastel shades. The works are embellished by a certain modest subtlety.
Viljo Pertola graduated as a visual artisan and completed his vocational upper secondary qualification in visual expression at Kaarisilta Art and Activity Center in 2020. In addition to this, he has received a lot of other art training. He has been involved in exhibitions since 2015. His works have been exhibited in many places: Viidakossa tarkkaillaan [Watching in the jungle], Art Centre Into’s joint exhibition; Galleria Art Kaarisilta, Helsinki (2018); Art Centre Into’s 10th-anniversary exhibition (2019); Generation 2020 at Amos Rex (2020); Pimeyden tyyssija [Sanctum of darkness] on the island of Örö (2021–2022). Viljo’s works have also been exhibited in the B-gallery (Turku, 2021), at Kaarisilta Biennale (Lahti, 2021) and at the Art Kaarisilta exhibition at the Saari Residence for artists (Helsinki, 2023).
The mission of Galleria Into is to showcase outsider art!
The gallery is a collaboration project between The Art center Into association and Aboa Vetus Ars Nova Museum. The project will run from April 2023 until January 2024. It will include five solo exhibitions in the museum’s second-floor gallery, by artists working at the Into art center. The exhibition concept has been named Gallery Into, which translates into “Gallery Enthusiasm”.
Art center Into
The Art center Into provides art activities and visual arts education for people with special needs. Founded in 2009, the center is in Pompo, Turku. Into offers regular art classes and courses and hosts several artist studios and public community art projects.
The Art center Into lives up to its name: it is a vibrant community that operates freely and professionally. The activities are guided by a view of art that allows everyone to be seen and heard in their own way.
“It means a lot. Really a lot. How should I describe it… Really very much. It’s everything.”
What does art mean to you? –Viljo Pertola-
Aboa Vetus Ars Nova
Cooperation with the museum was initiated by The Art center Into. Art tutors and long-time Into activists Eija Ruoho and Sinikka Mäki-Lertola invited museum curator Niina Tanskanen to visit the center, which quickly led to the idea of exhibition cooperation.
The two parties share a desire to do something different. For the museum, it is a great honor to provide the venue for the exhibitions that Into has been working on for years. Cooperation with Into also aims to make outsider art part of the wider art field. But the best thing about the collaboration is the exhibitions themselves: these five artists’ works are truly worth experiencing!
Gallery Into exhibitions
28.4.–7.6.2023 Miira Kangas
16.6.–26.7.2023 Tiina Elina Nurminen
4.8.– 17.9.2023 Daniel Hahta
29.9.– 19.11.2023 Miia Ruohonen
8.12.– 14.1.2024 Viljo Pertola
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