Swedish artist, sculptor Roland Persson (b. 1963) combines three-dimensional hyperrealism and conceptual constructions in a magical way. His works often obey the natural scale. Even though he says that he depicts his subjects directly, emotional metaphors appear to be drawn to his art on their own accord. His strong conceptual approach reminds us of the fact that we see something other than reality when we look at works of art. Persson’s output includes elements of duality, romanticism and alienation. His works project experiences as lyrical and visual, but also include the pain and fragility that follow seeing things differently.
The exhibition includes several sets of works where the artist deals with their ostensible naturalistic illusions as reflections of reality and comments on them with new pieces made for this exhibition. When we see a giant water lily spreading out as an installation, what exactly are we looking at? The artist has always been interested in the relationship between humans and nature, but its representation acquires an uncanny and ambiguous tension. He does not depict nature for nature’s sake, but instead, it functions as a surface for projecting the subconscious and emotions. Natural objects such as plants appear mistreated at the hands of humans and slightly off-kilter, their meanings having been tuned to a dreamlike form by the artist.
Drawing is fundamental for Persson. It is his method for slowly sketching out his sculptures, but also an important and independent form of expression. His large-scale drawings are composed of individual dots—slow motion digital data that forms a picture over time. Their waxy surface serves as a subtle nod toward the materials used by the conceptual artist Joseph Beuys (1921–1986). The flexible silicone the artist uses in his sculptures has enabled different experimental depictions of flora and fauna, which combine three-dimensionality with a painterly approach.
Rolan Persson lives and works in Stockholm and is one his country’s leading contemporary artists. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Umeå in 1993 and then continued his studies at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art, graduating as a sculptor in 1999. He has supplemented his university studies with an interest in theoretical psychoanalysis, which can be seen in the subconscious and analytical content of his works—as an aesthetic content comprising both pain and beauty.
The exhibition is produced by Vaasa City Museums in collaboration with the artist and it is his first solo museum exhibition in Finland. The exhibition team: Sofia Olander, Roland Persson, Maaria Salo and Janna Sirén. Technical execution: Olli Kohtamäki and Jenni Ojalainen.
Roland Persson. Mouth of Medusa, 2018. Plaster and silicone. Photo: Jussi Tiainen.