Reima Nevalainen: Syncope
Galerie Forsblom, March 20–April 19, 2020
Reima Nevalainen’s (b. 1984) collage paintings are based on visible reality, yet the world they convey is one of multisensory dimensions. Their content revolves around contrasting elements: humans and nature; light and darkness; abstraction and form. The human figures in his ascetic paintings are intertwined with nature and the animal kingdom – they grow, change and languish as part of the natural world around them. The emotions readable in their gestures and expressions are at once cathartic and ecstatic at the wonder of being subsumed within nature’s great cycle.
The title of the exhibition, Syncope, is the medical term for fainting. The artist likens this to a state of sudden stop, after which reality appears naked, stripped of the veil of language and the associations evoked by the conceptual categories through which we give shape to our existence. The space between the paintings, too, is like a sudden loss of consciousness or memory loss concealing many forgotten layers and images. For Nevalainen painting marks an attempt to fight the inevitable forgetting of ideas, images, dreams and experiences; it is a way of articulating reality within the limited confines of our imperfect and inaccurate sensory perceptions. Painting gives a material form to the unexpected; memory is torn into pieces and recombined in new configurations on the canvas. An artist must be alert to capture this fragmentary stream of mental impressions; in Nevalainen’s oeuvre, his attention to minutiae is manifest dually in rapid, urgent brushstrokes paired with a patient, arduous process. Although it is impossible for any single painting to recapture all that is forgotten, each painting is a significant, irreplaceable fragment in a great atlas of remembrance.
Nevalainen graduated as a painter from Kankaanpää Art School in 2008. He was chosen as Finland’s Young Artist of the Year in 2016. His work is found in leading Finnish collections including Helsinki Art Museum and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. Nevalainen lives and works in Porvoo.