Toni R. Toivonen (b. 1987) has a unique work method that demands time and patience, for his process is a slow one. He places animal carcasses on a brass plate and waits for them to leave an imprint during their gradual process of physical decomposition. The resulting artwork is a mixture of the animal’s inimitable presence and the artist’s consciously imparted message. The decomposing carcass paints an immortal artwork with its fleeting transience, and thus perpetuates its existence in the world of mortals. We do not see an image of a horse: what we see is an imprint of the horse itself.
What happens after we die? This eternal question has preoccupied humankind since the beginning of time. Toivonen’s artworks preserve the contours of the real animal that once existed, yet the outlines are more than just traces of its physical presence: the artwork serves as a lyrical testament to the continuation of life and existence. His work is a sensitive reminder of the ubiquitous nature of death – a reminder that we need death to understand the meaning of life. Death is one of the grand themes immortalized throughout art history, yet Toivonen finds an entirely fresh way of approaching the subject. The palpable presence of death finds material expression in the bodily fluids of the carcass: the message is transcribed in blood and fat. In the modern world, we no longer come face to face with death as people did in the past – death has become an abstract concept. Toivonen shatters this taboo with his art.
The exhibition marks the debut of HEAVY, a semi-documentary film about Toivonen’s absurd world directed by Theo Bat Schandorff (Denmark). The screening dates will be announced in due course.
Toni R. Toivonen graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2016. He won The Art of Basware global competition in 2014. He has exhibited in prominent venues including London and New York, and his work is found in public collections such as the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Sara Hildén Museum of Art, the Vantaa Art Museum and the Handelsbanken Collection in Sweden.