The Kalervo Palsa exhibition at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien displays 20 of the artist’s works, alongside a selection of personal documents and two films by Pekka Lehto and Erkki Pirtola that explore Palsa’s aprroach to his artwork. Kalervo Palsa lived in an isolated town in the North of Finland for the majority of his life, something he perhaps tries to reflect in the select few images of tranquil country life and the nature that surrounded him. However, these quiet moments in his collection of works are rudely interrupted by his crude and brutally honest depictions of death and sexuality, most commonly in the form of sodomy and death by hanging. Palsa himself said: “It is not enough to paint flowers, one must also paint hangman’s nooses.”
His works, whilst on the verge of being unpalatable, redeem themselves with a dark sense of humour and his almost childish and comical style of painting. They successfully break the boundaries of what is considered to be socially acceptable in a garish and yet somehow endearing and accessible manner. Palsa was clearly an artist who was not afraid to indulge himself in his own fantasy world, locking himself away in his studio that he referred to as “the castle in the sky,” and this exhibition is a vibrant portrayal of an imagination consumed by sexual frustration, forbidden desire and an uncomfortable affinity with death.
Kalervo Palsa, The raper in Valtaa, 137x166cmKalervo Palsa, The alcoholic, 39x36cmKalervo Palsa, The radiator on the sky, 37.5x41cmKalervo Palsa, The human smallness, 58x74cmKalervo Palsa, Alice in wonderland, 58x74cm
Blog entry by Chloe Waggott & photos by Stephanie Third in Berlin; Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.