JULY 2021

Located on the gable end wall of a block of flats called Mäntylinna, Tuomas Korkalo’s workComposition for Mäntylinna wishes the guests arriving in the Art Town welcome. Stemming from the roots of abstract art’s history, the work salutes also the building which represents 1950’s modernism.

Rovaniemi-based visual artist Tuomas Korkalo arrived in Mänttä in April 2021 to work on a large-scale mural on the gable end wall of Mäntylinna building. An artist working in abstract art, in his works he studies form, rhythm and colour in a space. 

Korkalo tells he finds his inspiration in Russian Avantgarde, among other things. When one compares Korkalo’s paintings for example with the works of Ukrainian-Russian pioneer of abstract art, Kazimir Malevich, the role model extracted from the history is clearly visible. Malevich established in 1915 an art trend called Suprematism whose supporters created works based on basic geometric shapes. 

Unlike his Russian paragons, Korkalo creates in his paintings an illusion of three-dimensional blocks in space. Their shape is outlined by length, width and depth as well as accurate use of colour. The composition created on Mäntylinna’s facade contains twenty-some tones, the blue base colour on the gable wall has not been altered. Each seemingly light block appears to be floating at slightly different speed on their blue base. In a way, the movement of the blocks in different directions brings along the fourth dimension – time. 

It is exciting to observe in which direction the blocks are travelling in the image space created by Korkalo. Has the movement been instigated by giving the blocks a push start or is a force drawing them in like a magnet and at which speed? Some of the blocks seem to be approaching, moving out of the wall whereas some are sinking slowly deeper and away creating an illusion of depth. 

”I wanted to create an illusion of space and lightness. A room with movements and airiness. Even though the composition is based on perspectives, small “twists” take place inside the shapes and create a slightly surreal atmosphere”, explains Korkalo the illusion of movement he has created. 

To compose the mural, Serlachius Residency organised an open competition which fetched 129 proposals from 28 different countries. Tuomas Korkalo’s composition attracted the attention of the jury because in it, one can sense Mäntylinna’s modernistic 1950s spirit. It also nicely highlights the gable end wall of the house. The owner’s association at Mäntylinna made the final selection of the work to be implemented.

Nowadays Mäntylinna has been nominated as a building of cultural historical interest. This has not always been the case. Tiina Nyrhinen, executive director of Mänttä Art Festival remembers the year 1995, when during an art exhibition curated by Juhani Takalo-Eskola, all the apartments of Mäntylinna were used for showing art. 

”At that time, during the 1990s economic depression, there were intensions to demolish the house, but along with the summer exhibition interest in the house grew so much that it could remain on its place, after all, and at present operates as an independent housing cooperative.” 

The mural was produced in collaboration of the City of Mänttä-Vilppula, Housing Cooperative Mäntän Mäntylinna and Serlachius Residency, and it is comprised the Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s Collection of contemporary art.  

Laura Kuurne
Head of Collections and Exhibitions

Tuomas Korkalo, Composition for Mäntylinna, 2021. Mural. Serlachius Museums' Collection of contemporary Art. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva.
Tuomas Korkalo, Composition for Mäntylinna, 2021. Mural. Serlachius Museums’ Collection of Contemporary Art. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva.