Ohne Titel, 1999/2000
acrylic on canvas
Ø 141 cm
1946 born in Helsinki
lives and works in Helsinki
Never having been interested in pure Op Art, in the mid-1970s the Finnish artist Matti Kujasalo arrived at his own personal style whose main element is the short straight line. Arranged serially on the picture surface as horizontals, verticals or even diagonals, since the 1990s they have led to works based mainly on the reduced chromatics of black-grey-white contrasts.
This untitled circular piece from 1999/2000 likewise creates its powerful effect from strong colour contrasts and by linking up numerous squares made from short lines intersecting on the vertical and horizontal. Faced with these flickering formations, which cover the entire work, our gaze is left to wander about the picture surface. And being circular, the work also provides no direction in which it should be read. But the aim here is not so much to stimulate the viewer’s eye as to construct an overall surface by means of various combinatory units: as for instance the intersections between the numerous white stroke formations and the black bars that outline a number of the squares and divide them off from other groupings. The white lines have not, however, been actively applied as traces of paint, but are negative forms created by using thousands of strips of adhesive tape. These were attached to the white primed canvas according to a predetermined concept, painted over with black acrylic, and then removed once the paint had dried. Prior to this the elements to be used in the construction are worked out by tossing a dice, say, or perhaps by employing a sequence of Fibonacci numbers. And in fact every time, Kujasalo is himself surprised by the final effect created by the work.
Impressed by American Abstract artists such as Ad Reinhardt and Josef Albers, whose works the Finnish artist came to know during his stays in the USA in 1967 and 1970, he began to produce strictly logical serial paintings using acrylic paint and adhesive tape. The resulting insights were then employed from 1978 onwards in three-dimensional works. But painting has remained for him the more appropriate avenue for visualizing abstract ideas, because the third dimension tends to hinder an illusion from being embodied, as the artist remarked in an interview. In this combination of circular format and black-and-white modular connections, Kujasalo has produced an abstract visualization of such topical phenomena as the global network, whose secret order the viewer can try to trace out in the picture surface.