Raimo Utriainen

Great rhythm





Few artists have done what Raimo Utriainen (1927–1994) has done and created most of his works from a single element, aluminium. Utriainen’s sculptures are easily identified as his, but the viewer generally does not think of their soft waves and light-bending surfaces as being a result of straight lines. The artist is quoted as saying that he loves creating large works, as their size “enables the lines to sing”.

These metal lines are evident in the piece “Great rhythm” in the Bank of Finland’s collection. The idea behind the sculpture can be approached by thinking of it as a half-opened fan or, perhaps more likely, a group of fans.

The movement dynamics in Utriainen’s sculptures are often interpreted as having their inspiration in nature. Utriainen frequently gave his works clearly identifying names. Despite this, he often resorted to analogies drawn from the world of music and called his works basic units, staves and notes. Rejecting the idea of his describing their contents, he said “form is idea and idea is form, and neither can be translated into any language”. This, of course, touched the artist’s basic concept. They had no verbalised starting point, rather viewers are perfectly free to make whatever associations they feel like. It is then that music, alongside the experience of nature itself, be it for example imaginary waves, can take hold.

The immense upright form of “Great rhythm” reminds the viewer of a standing human figure, depicted through undulating drapery. Unlike one of his much earlier works, the memorial to Ida Aalberg, the figurative nature of “Great rhythm” comes closer to the viewers’ “scanning results”: the upright form can be classed as a standing figure.

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