Tuukka Tammisaari Studio Visit
In the midst of the darkest and coldest time of winter, I do what is, at first sight, the most unappealing thing. I go to Finland. I go to Finland, a country with 5 535 205 inhabitants blessed with fewer sunrays than 97% of the world. Why? To meet with artist Tuukka Tammisaari, one of Finland’s most prominent young painters.
Finding one’s way to Tammisaari’s studio feels like walking in a maze of concrete, and doing so on one of the darkest days of the Finnish winter makes it feel slightly dystopian. When I make it to the correct address, Tuukka greets me and guides me through corridors upon corridors until he opens the door to his studio.
The door to his universe. His universe, that is making its way onto the mood board of a steadily growing audience. Tammisaari has successfully shown at a number of galleries in Helsinki and in his hometown Lahti, at KANT in Copenhagen and at Maw in New York.
It’s a landscape of colors, brushes, jars, paint, and sketches. A few pieces of furniture, a radio, and a plant. On top of that, the Finnish essentials: a coffee mug and a pack of cigarettes. I instantly forget the gloomy maze that led me to this artistic nest. Tuukka invites me to have a seat, gets worried for a second about paint stains on my pants, offers me coffee and makes me feel at home instantly. The pants remain fashionably unstained and I tell him I already had coffee. Did you know that Finns consume the most coffee per capita in the world?
It’s no wonder that it’s easy for me to feel at home in Tuukka’s studio—he has had it for 7 years and tells me that friends are welcome here. Nonetheless, he describes it as an egoistic place. It is a positively lonesome place, as is Tammisaari’s creative process. He has held almost exclusively solo shows and explains it is the only way it makes sense for him to show his work. When you work alone, the curatorial process is personal—you are the only one who can really understand the links between the different aspects of the artistic entity.
Tuukka enjoys the solitude of his studio—there is no need to compromise, neither the square meters nor his artistic view. We discuss the importance of egoism, and how crucial it is for Tuukka to leave that egoism inside the studio when he exits it. He sees no need to keep the myth about arrogant artists alive.
Instead, he tells me about how he enjoys the way he has learned to tune his social antennas. Where Tuukka’s studio is located, the mazes are filled with doors locking in creative spaces like his own. Every now and then the artists cross paths in the corridors and share a coffee. ”There is a good gang in the corridors.” In Finnish: Käytävällä on hyvää jengiä.
When we meet, Tuukka is moving through these corridors more than before. This is due to the fact that he has temporarily divided and expanded his workspace. He has a studio on the lower floor, which is for more technical work: for preparing the canvases, one after the other, with an almost militaristic tempo. A space with a fast-paced movement and that movement is onward, forward, upward. And then upstairs.
It is in the upstairs studio that we meet that day. He describes it as the creativity being separated from the technicalities, and that here he lets creativity take its time. He paints, he tries, he fails, he sits in his chair, he paints, he reads a book, he paints again. He says he acknowledges the privilege of knowing what he wants. ”I would like to be a morning person”, Tuukka jokes, ”but sometimes before lunch, the only thing I have accomplished is sharpening my pencil”.
On the wall, between the desk, the radio, the cigarettes and a side table filled with paint, brushes, and equipment, there is a board. On the board, there is a pencil-drawn sketch. I ask about it. Tuukka responds by telling me about something Julian Schnabel once said —apparently Schnabel had counted he had roughly 30 summers left to live. He decided to change this and has now three homes in different parts of the world which has led to a total of 90 summers left to live. This inspired Tammisaari to do some planning of his own. He decided to plan and sketch his ultimate workspace. Is it possible to plan one’s happiness?
Tammisaari’s art intrigues me. It is color-obsessed, and it feels big, even when the centimeters that frame it are small. I ask where this all comes from. What inspires him? For Tuukka, inspiration is a difficult word, but sometimes it is the only right word to use. He tells me that for him, a dog’s smiling face can be inspiring. ”I’ve often wondered if I am a simple person compared to other artists that approach their creative process in a more intellectual way, but for me, creating is something that is born from a natural motivation. Perhaps simplicity is the most beautiful thing”.The main method for him to create is curiosity—perfection without trial and error would be utopian. On the canvas in front of us, there is a lemon, a volcano, and a tomato moon. ”I don’t yet know what’s happening there.”
We talk about the pieces he is currently working on that will be exhibited at Art Rotterdam and at his solo show in Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki, and about his first exhibition, in the lobby of his high school. What similarities can be found? Tuukka tells me it is hard for him to pinpoint similarities in the aesthetic, but says that what continues to be the same, is the feeling of pleasure found in the absurdity of spreading color onto a canvas. ”Creating is for me. The creations aren’t. They are for you”.
See Tuukka Tammisaari’s works here:
”Mantle” on view at Galerie Forsblom 15.2.2018 -28.2.2018
Text and photography by Avin Jarjis
No. 1 in Italy
On the canvas in front of us, there is a lemon, a volcano, and a tomato moon. ”I don’t yet know what’s happening there.”
Can happiness be planned?
A few pieces of furniture, a radio, and a plant. On top of that, the Finnish essential: a packet of coffee.
The feeling of pleasure found in the absurdity of spreading color onto a canvas. ”Creating is for me. The creations aren’t. They are for you”.