Toni R. Toivonen: Death is a Painting
Galerie Forsblom, August 19–September 18, 2022
Toni R. Toivonen (b.1987) examines the duality of life, including conceptions of life and death, body and soul. Starting out with painting, Toivonen worked with different techniques, such as oil and charcoal on canvas and chalk on chalkboard, eventually experimenting towards a more conceptual outcome, using himself or a dead animal as means of painting.
Toivonen graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2016. He has won The Art of Basware 2014 global competition, held for artists under 30 years old. As a student at Turku's University of Applied Arts Academy, Toivonen actively showcased his work, and upon completion of his studies he held a solo exhibition, Black Sheep, as a result of a residency at Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova. Toivonen's work has been exhibited in Finland, London, and New York, and his work can be found in public collections such as the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, the Saastamoinen Foundation, and the Sara Hildén Museum of Art.
Galerie Forsblom has been representing Toni R. Toivonen since 2015.
The chemical process brought about by the decomposition of animals in the artworks of Toni R. Toivonen creates forms with the discernible features of a horse. The creation of the form is influenced by happenstance as well as by the physique of animals placed on brass. The process is based on the decomposition of matter but it records traces of the disintegration process, thereby creating a continuum for life. Art has taken Toivonen to the edge of moments in which birth and death literally co-exist. Such as when the artist immortalized fate in an artwork with a mare and foal still connected by the umbilical cord. Thus, Toivonen not only takes the history of art to the extreme of its iconic thematic but also poses the question: can death be beautiful?
Through his latest works, Toivonen has delved even deeper into examining the concepts of life and death. Despite the naturalness of the subject, the artist has sometimes found himself in some macabre situations. Such as last Christmas, which Toivonen spent filling the abdominal cavity of a horse with 500 kilograms of molding material. The abstract form extracted from the interior of the horse provided the mold for Toivonen’s latest bronze sculpture. A mold that the animal itself spent 30 years building. In this piece, Toivonen has transformed empty space into a physical presence in a certain kind of inverted state that is arresting as a consequence of its sublime sculpting material and that awakes a quiet respect for both life and that particular animal.