Petri Ala-Maunus

Nine Years of Sunsets

15 February - 25 March 2006

mother’s tankstation, is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by the Finnish artist Petri Ala-Maunus.

For the past nine years, Petri Ala-Maunus (born Kuortane, Finland, 1970), in his own words, has “…only painted sunsets…” This small self-deprecation is of course an ironic smoke screen for a number of significant elements that makes this a fascinatingly rich body of work. Nine Years of Sunsets attempts to explore the broad range of conceptual and affective possibilities Ala-Maunus has injected into the self-consciously focused practice, by collecting together an expansive selection of works, over 60 paintings from 1998-2006.

Ala-Maunus is a technically superb painter who renders his diverse and imaginary sunsets with extraordinary skill. His painterly abilities tied to a thorough understanding of pictographic language and construct of the romantic sunset allows him to paint a ‘sunset’ without being any where near natural phenomena. The quality of the paintwork could easily, at first glance, align them with the great painters of the European Romantic school, but this is perversely undermined by his choice of painting supports – Ala-Maunus paints his symbolic sunsets on ‘real’ things; an unfolded Big Mac carton, a workman’s glove, a tea bag, dinner napkins, as well as the conventional canvas.

Although Ala-Maunus’s sunsets are redolent with ironic self-awareness, they are not mono-dimensional Kitsch for its own sake, rather they are very serious representations, or surrogates, for moments of phenomenological crises; what am I? What do I do? What do I do next? Ala-Maunus’s paintings – in search of subject – reflect the artists’ investigation in the very act of making art, which in turn mirrors the more profound philosophical question of our place in the great scheme of things.

Recently Ala-Maunus has concentrated his sunsets as applied painted additions to ‘found’ ‘flea-market’ paintings, commercial tapestries and items of folk art, unwanted, prosaic or drab images in need of new light, the ‘sublime intervention of a poetic sunset – makeovers of a new meaning and purpose. This exhibition will show a large number of works, selected from Ala-Maunus’s inventory from the past nine years.

Petri Ala-Maunus’s recent exhibitions include; Art Omi International Artists’ Residency, USA; Dronninglund Kunstcenter, Denmark; Trondelag Senter for Samtidskunst, Trondheim, Norway; Vigadó Galleria, Szigetvár, Hungary; Konstforum, Norrköping, Sweden; Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, and Helsinki City Art Museum.

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