Karin Kytökangas

Karin Kytökangas. Persevere, 2023.

Year granted: 2022 Website: Part of Prospects

“I wish the world were softer,” Karin Kytökangas (1991) confesses. With paintings and sculptures executed in a dreamlike visual language, the artist challenges painful power structures. She is especially interested in the tension between power on the one hand and vulnerability on the other. In order to depict this tension she uses the contrasts between soft and hard. The vulnerable, soft medium of painting, for instance, can simultaneously be hard when using a powerful visual language or making a strong substantive statement. At Prospects, Kytökangas is showing three works that all include these contrasts: two paintings in the exhibition inside, and one outside sculpture.

The painting Persevere (2023) shows a burning car executed in pastel shades, with the hard violence of the accident conflicting with the soft colour scheme. The other painting, A little god in his hands (2023), depicts a treehouse, which usually represents the innocent world of children. To the artist, however, the treehouse also evokes associations with children playing soldiers or involving other forms of violence in their games. The sculpture The Long Haul (2023), standing outside the Van Nellefabriek, is literally a soft object that is now hard: a fixated white flag eternally billowing in the wind. “To me, all three works are about a desire for peace”, the artist says. “They are metaphors for all kinds of contemporary conflicts we are trying to cope with: from wars to pollution.” By creating contrasts between shape and content, Kytökangas encourages us to surrender to reality and argues in favour of innovation.

Text: Milo Vermeire

Translation from Dutch to English: Marie Louise Schoondergang