Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Ville Andersson

At the heart of Ville Andersson’s art practice is his early childhood desire to become an art collector. For the Helsinki-based artist, his childhood was the primer for what would become an encyclopedic passion for art. In his hometown on the remote southern coast of Finland, in an art library compiled by his mother, an art teacher, Andersson discovered a realm of imagination far beyond the confines of space and time, which he continues to explore in his current body of work.

Ville Andersson. Reflection (My Little Empire series), 2013; digital print face mounted on acrylic; 39.3 x 54.3 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson. Reflection (My Little Empire series), 2013; digital print face mounted on acrylic; 39.3 x 54.3 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Context is essential to Andersson’s work, and the site-specific project My Little Empire is perhaps Andersson’s most direct attempt at exploring his fascination with the psychology of collecting. When he first saw the space in which the project was to be shown, the intimate scale of the rooms and their compact layout evoked a vision of a two-dimensional museum featuring different period rooms. This inspired Andersson to produce a series of two-dimensional works in different styles, as if they were the works of various artists—an imaginary collection of a fictional art collector.

Ville Andersson. Hidden (My Little Empire series), 2013; ink and pencil on paper; 31.4 x 23.6 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson. Hidden (My Little Empire series), 2013; ink and pencil on paper; 31.4 x 23.6 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Andersson’s work appears to be a series of monochromatic explorations that range in medium from drawings and paintings to photographs. A close look reveals a comprehensive archive of references from a wide range of periods and disciplines, including classic and Romantic literature, Japanese modern dance, and the New Wave cinema of the 1960s. In the titles and in the visual language of his compositions, Andersson selects and highlights works of literature, film, and art that respond to his desire to evoke deep thoughts and emotions not readily present on the surface of everyday life. Andersson refers to the German term unheimlich (which roughly translates to “the uncanny”) to describe the attraction to what is seemingly familiar but equally unusual in its appearance—a recurring theme underlying many of Andersson’s works.

Ville Andersson. Waves (My Little Empire series), 2013; ink and pencil on paper; 44.8 x 43.3 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson. Waves (My Little Empire series), 2013; ink and pencil on paper; 44.8 x 43.3 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

In citing some of the influences that inform his practice, Andersson refers to two Japanese art forms: haiku and butoh, a modern dance theater that arose in Japan post-World War II as an attempt to challenge normative rules of Japanese society by freeing the body from accepted modes of expression. One of the photographic works, Reflection (2013), shows a naked, pale body in mid-movement in a composition staged completely in Andersson’s studio. This work directly references butoh dancers, who are typically covered in white body paint, signifying the embodiment of a primal state of being. This visual austerity is adopted in the colorless palette present in many of Andersson’s works.

Ville Andersson. Ishmael (My Little Empire series), 2013; ink and pencil on paper; 31.4 x 23.6 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson. Ishmael (My Little Empire series), 2013; ink and pencil on paper; 31.4 x 23.6 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

A range in tone from light to dark hues reveals the artist’s interest in the visual impact of contrast. But for Andersson, the absence of color is also symptomatic of a desire to strip down to the basics and encapsulate the notion of silence as a formal expression. The simplicity of a monochromatic spectrum opens up space for free association that Andersson believes is instrumental in a work of art; for him, it is a way of “reducing unnecessary elements to discover what is necessary.” It is worth noting that Andersson’s production process involves creating works in series, and he views his artistic queries as part of a continuum of thought that is ongoing since time immemorial, or in his words, like “an utterance in one infinitely long debate.”

Ville Andersson. Transition (My Little Empire series), 2013; pencil on paper; 11.6 x 8.2 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson. Transition (My Little Empire series), 2013; pencil on paper; 11.6 x 8.2 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. Andersson graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Art in the spring of 2012. He has exhibited actively in both collective and solo exhibitions in Finland and abroad, including the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the National Art Center in Tokyo, the Vitraria Glass + A Museum in Venice, and ARCO Madrid. In 2015 he was named the Young Artist of the Year in Finland. He had two solo museum exhibitions in the same year, at Tampere Art Museum and at Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum. Other awards include the 2012 Stina Krook Foundation Award and the 2012 Anita Snellman Foundation Stipend. In 2014 he was a finalist for the annual Spanish Art Critics Association Award at ARCO Madrid.

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