JUSSI VALTAKARI (FI)
Sculptor Jussi Valtakari creates richly detailed figurative statuettes in wood. Using traditional techniques, he captures the essence of contemporary times by creating fictional characters.
Jussi Valtakari’s interest and experimentation with wood carving started at the age of four when he began to make his first toys and figures. Since then, he has specialized in creating highly expressive fictional portraits.
The figures are often based on his observations of local people combined with images gathered from different forms of media. In Cherry, for example, the figure has graffiti in the form of poems on her dress. Valtakari created the poems by randomly selecting words from baking books and car magazines.
The artist says that his portraits are fictional but that the figures include traits from real people he has met. As Valtakari carves from memory, he makes a diagnosis of the current times by capturing the essence of contemporary people and of the era.
The figures are very distinct, and each one is strongly characterized thanks to their incredible richness in details. This quality and the small dimensions of the wooden figures encourage the viewer to approach them and observe them closely. Valtakari’s ability to create charismatic figures gives the viewer the impression of being stared back at by the sculptures.
Wooden carving is a technique that builds on a long-standing tradition, thus connecting Valtakari’s works with this classic practice. The artist carves his figures by using hand tools, a technique he was taught when he was a child by his father. Therefore, there is a historical touch to Valtakari’s figures, yet they are very modern and innovative. He notes that wood has a history in itself, and that just like people, wood has memory. His interest in classical techniques can be appreciated as he coloured some of his works using casein tempera, a painting technique used in ancient Egypt.
Valtakari also works as a painter, street artist and performance artist. He sometimes leaves wooden objects in places he visits, and thus they may be spotted in some areas of Berlin.