Juhana Moisander’s work Deluge (the Flood) completes his series Ethology of a Man. The piece continues to observe human behaviour. The parts of the series are combined with the language of deliberate, slowed-down, and demanding movement. The painterly compositions are complimented with a carefully thought-out, in some parts even pious, soundscape. The segments in Moisander’s trilogy are like sacred images. The works take a stand on social issues, are attached to the present, but draw their beauty from the past.
The first two parts of the series, Temptation of Saint Anthony and Ethology of a Man, study human behaviour as an assemblage, a large mass. An individual’s voice is not as prominent in those works as it is in the final parts of the series, Pied Piper and Deluge. In the latter explorations, the characters’ struggle for existence is very lonely and mournful. There is nobody by their side to offer comfort. In Pied Piper, a person’s solace is focused on playing the lute and its proximity, while in Deluge, water and stone give a moment of relief to a swimmer.
Deluge draws references to an altarpiece through its size and shape—installed on the five-meter high wall. The proportions become so large that they inundate the viewer. The visual starting points for Juhana Moisander’s work have been the 19th-century illustrations of the Bible drawn by Gustave Dore and the ceiling fresco of Michelangelo’s deluge in the Sistine Chapel.
Mythology around flooding lives firmly in various cultures, and has become an integral part of different traditions. Even though the story is recited in multiple ways, a common thread is the period of injustice that precedes the flood. Moreover, plenty of symbolic meanings are associated with water. Water cleanses and empowers. Water also serves as a boundary between life and the hereafter. Water has historically been used to regulate living conditions, and its current importance has not diminished. Increasing weather extremes enhance the power and volatility of water.
The leading elements in the landscape that opens up in Deluge are the sky, water, and stone. From afar on the horizon, the swimming figure appears and swims purposefully towards the rock from which he receives a moment of refuge. The stone allows the character in, as nature has always done. The human has been welcome. The gentle softness of the atmosphere hovers over the water. The stream of light is slowly dimmed as darker clouds gather in front of it, and hope fades with the disappearance of light. The character climbs on the rock, and the stone begins to sink. He looks at his image reflected in the water. This appears as a moment of atonement. An unknown force pulls the character down into the darkness, and nature takes over. The forces of darkness reclaim what belongs to them, and the eternal resurfaces.
Juhana Moisander lives and works in Karkkila, Southern Finland. He graduated with a MA degree from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now Aalto University) in 2007. Juhana Moisander’s works have been shown in numerous exhibitions in Finland and abroad. Previous pieces from the series Ethology of a Man were on display at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art at EMMA and Mänttä Art Festival 2019. Moisander’s works are included in the collections of Helsinki Art Museum HAM, Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA, and Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. In the spring of 2020, Moisander finalised a public artwork Justitia for Lappeenranta’s new courthouse commissioned by the Finnish State Art Commission. His most recent solo exhibition featuring Pied Piper was in Galerie Anhava Underground in 2020. www.juhanamoisander.com
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
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image above: Juhana Moisander, detail from video piece Deluge, 2021
below: installation shots by Milla Talassalo