Homo ludens – Playful man

Painter, sculptor, graphic designer, operator, designer, photographer, carpenter, scenic designer, psychiatrist, clown? which of them has created these works? Each of them. Harri Kivi calls his most recent works quite simply spacelace paintings.

What do I see first? Bits and pieces: a window, an iconostasis, a bubble roof, spyhole, binoculars, fire engine, camera, disco lights, an incubator. Glowing colours, a vortex of shiny surfaces, masterly handling of materials. The scene could easily be placed in a full-blooded, elegant continuum leading from abstract modernism to a pure ideal of beauty. Kivi likes to refer to exponents of concrete art - Mether-Borgström, Nordström, Vanni? whose main elements in their non-representative art are colour, lines and texture. However, there are more dimensions to Kivi's works.

With the fragmentation of contemporary art into countless ways of expression and form, Kivi's art links up with the stream of art originating in early 20th century Constructivism that spawned what we now term today as minimalism. Kinetic and Op art, serial art, installation and environmental art are closely related. However, these have sought to create not a programmable style, but a comprehensive conception of the world, based on a holistic view of art and an awareness of its social responsibility. The universal mission of art everywhere has always been to strive for the truth, to refine Man to its extreme limits and to understand the fascinating connection between good and evil while showing this all at the same time.

On closer look, the inside world of Harri Kivi?s works begins to show through many layers of material. A whole universe, a fourth dimension ? time and space ? of intact, aesthetic 3-D objects gradually opens up through the flickering shadows left by childhood and life lived. Eternity and inexplicability. Extremes clash together: surface and depth, hard and soft, yin and yang. A round saw and crochet hook in vigorous combat.

Harri Kivi is a maximum minimalist whose works are equations without any ultimate solutions. He is also a vitalist, from whose dark eye springs an unbridled joie de vivre and whose longing becomes hope, an attempt to take control at the same time of life and the entire universe, without historical, national or cultural boundaries. Kivi?s oeuvre is, in his own words, "the universe turned upside down".

Ernst Mether-Borgström, who considered himself a "näive optimist", once said: "Our first creation is a sandcastle, the sort a three-year-old child makes with a bucket. This gives us a feeling of satisfaction. An irregular heap of sand is given a pure, distinct form, it awaits a creative human hand. An artist continues this throughout his life, but takes it to extremes. He uses every material imaginable to capture light and shade and to express, like a barometer, the moving spirit of the age."

Marja-Liisa Rönkkö, PhD
(The writer is the first Director General of Finnish National Gallery)