Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Article about my show from Keskisuomalainen, translated (finally)

I finally made time to do this rough translation of the article that the Keskisuomalainen newspaper published concerning my recent art show.

”I’ve worked in factories, on construction sites, been a cook, been a writer, dishwasher, bartender.” says Willie Lahti, an artist who moved from the U.S. to Finland, describing his colorful employment history.

From these experiences came these Naïve paintings which depict the diligence of the working man. They make up an exhibition called Duunari/Working Man which is on display at Vakiopaine.

Lahti moved to Jyyväskylä officially in 2005. His career as an artist began already in the U.S. – in the artists own words “by accident”.
“Sometime around 1995 an artist friend of mine suggested that I should try painting. The next time I went to his studio he put a couple hundred bucks cash in my hand. A customer who had stopped by his place has wanted to buy my painting.”

His paintings are still selling. Fellow artists are of the opinion that the paintings go for way too cheap but Lahti has his own opinion on the subject – “Its better if my things are hanging in people’s living rooms or bathrooms even. I don’t want to be the artist that dies with thousands of paintings that no one has ever seen.”

Lahti has begun to feel at home in Jyväskylä after some initial inevitable difficulties – he say that his job at Vakiopaine feels right. The hard-working man can’t picture himself in the role of full-time artist.

“In my family we have always been working men. My first months in Finland were rough when I couldn’t find work right away. I couldn’t imagine being a full-time artist.”

“In the States we don’t have the same sort of grant-money system that one finds in Finland. Artists there have to either go to work or sell their work if they intend on eating.”

In the show at Vakiopaine, Lahti’s paintings concentrate on the subject of getting the job done. The characters portrayed in the paintings symbolize the truths of anyone who has toiled for an hourly wage.

“The chicken or rooster seen in the paintings is a recurring character in my work. Chickens are birds that tamed themselves and came out from the jungles for a better life with humans. They are parasites either – they give us meat and eggs”.
“In two of the paintings there is a menacing coyote with a pistol. This figure represents employers at their worst – living off the labor of the workers – but then again, without them there would be no jobs..” ponders Lahti.


The original article in Finnish (click on image to enlarge):




The show is over now. I feel that all went well - I got lots of feedback and managed to get two paintings sold.




Working man
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
Sold





Death-eye Dog and mongrel pup with working man
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale



Always on his mind
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
Sold




Boss and union rep always interfere
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale





Work is the curse of the drinking class/Deatheye dog
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale




Deatheye dog and mongrel pup/working man redux
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale




Boss and union rep made another sweetheart deal
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the translation Will! Congrats on your show and the article! Wish i could have see it in person...such vibrant fresh colors...feels south of border, kinda mexi-finn!

    And of course...gotta love those chickens!

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