© Kuvasto 2016. Photo: © Bank of Finland
THE POET OF WOO
If anyone, it is Kain Tapper (1930–2004) who “Fennocised” modern international sculpture innovations to suit Finnish materials. His works, whether of wood, stone or bronze, are able to follow along the plasticity and organic lines of Henry Moore’s sculptures and Constantin Brâncuşi’s smooth cubist wood carvings as well as the minimalism of sculptural monumental installations. These influences are however only background noise, Tapper’s creations are idiosyncratic and to be taken on their own terms. His work is both known and recognised outside Finland. Tapper’s handling of wood can reveal golden sunlight through fog, a tree’s rustling foliage, the babbling of a brook, the sighing of the wind or entire vistas such as the falls close to his home town of Saarijärvi (“Alder skull I”, 1977).
Tapper’s sculptures are representations of both abstracts and performances in a single form. The natural phenomena in his works must be interpreted through the subtle variations in their surface and patina. The secrets beneath the grooves and cuts are not to be found in the little ‘potterings’, rather in the handling of the axe. This was all part of the skill set owned by the artist’s father who was a master carpenter.
“Big grey” is a patinated and painted relief. It shows a slightly off-kilter oblong. It resembles a barn door, in front of which the viewer has stepped. Or then, perhaps it poses the question of an inner space. The atmospheric work represents a summer night’s dusk, but this is far from a homespun romanticism. “Big grey” is, for Finland, a rare comment on Kazimir Malevich’s famous painting “White on White”. Perhaps we can detect the artist’s amused irony that Tapper is directing though his piece at that icon of modernism.
Artist Kain Tapper