Toni R. Toivonen: The Flesh-Colored Dream of a Total Dissolution
August 13–September 13, 2020
”As the plague raged on, in the inhuman silence of the forest, it materialized, a flesh-colored room, with the stench of catharsis.”
- Toni R. Toivonen
Working within the genre of conceptual painting, Toni R. Toivonen (b. 1987) has been using the process of decomposition as his artistic method for the past few years. He finds animals that have died of natural causes and leave the carcass to rot on a brass plate. The decomposing animal leaves an imprint on the brass that not only immortalizes its silhouette but literally captures the last remaining traces of the animal’s presence on earth. In 2020 – with two major exhibitions behind him – the artist wanted to present a new perspective on this process. Drawing inspiration from sources such as the bleak landscapes painted by Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), Toivonen embarked on a series of works he describes as his pink era. In these new works, he continues exploring the theme of last earthly presence, but instead of using gold-tinted brass, he now uses pinkish copper, which acquires red, brown, and green hues as it oxidizes. The flesh-like reddish tones of the copper offer a contrast to the sacred aura evoked by the gold of his earlier pieces.
The artist describes his copper paintings as melancholic; confronting them is certainly a more visceral experience than ever before. With his pink paintings, he takes a step towards carnal, even more, corporeal form of conceptual painting. Like the Baroque painters who abandoned calm rationality in favor of impassioned yet candid corporeal abundance, Toivonen, too, brings every conceivable extreme of passion and agony to his new works. In his pink paintings, the image dissolves through the abstract composition, echoing the total dissolution of body and spirit.
Toivonen graduated from Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts in 2016. He is the 2014 winner of The Art of Basware global competition, and his work has been exhibited in London, New York, and Berlin. His work is found in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow MOCAK, 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.
The exhibition is supported by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.