NewsPRESS RELEASE 25.02.2009
Surfing Fishes. Vesa Varrela
In my work nature doesn’t have any role at all, ANY ROLE AT ALL!. Finnish design is a myth with its connection to nature but behind the myth there are always some secrets.
I am an urban man and I like borderlines between urban life and environment so called nature, my inspiration is coming out of cities and urbanism.
Just now I am fond of Baltic herring which is a smaller version of herring living in the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. I am working for enamel painted/printed and fired versions on glass as sculptures or outdoor installations. My works ”Surfaavat Kalat” / ”Surfing Fishes” made of 10mm safety glass, 800 mm wide x 2600 mm high, cut and polished in shape of a surfing board.
As after all herring is an excellent and tasty fish you will also see my herrings in my sculptures and installations at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design 2009.
As part of our nature of “homo sapiens” I am always open to challenges and summons and curiosity. (even though it killed the cat) is part of my nature.
In these glass surfing boards there are enamel colours painted and fired on glass as decorations or graphics of the fishes swimming around to remaind that the Baltic Sea is unique with significant river runoff, a relatively small sea basin and a limited exchange of the water with the North Sea. The watershed covers cities, agricultural and forestry areas in nine countries, and virtually all terrestrial activities significantly affect the marine environment. Due to the semi-enclosed nature of the Baltic Sea it is particularly important to address the terrestrial influences that affect the marine ecosystems.
So never forget to take care of our the natural environment!
Glass artist Vesa Varrela is one of the icons of Finnish post-modern glass art
Glass artist Vesa Varrela is one of the icons of our post-modern glass art. He was not sufficiently attracted by the studio glass art of the late
20th century, so from a fairly early stage he began to travel along roads of his own.
“Colours, lights, shadows and reflections,” glass artist Vesa Varrela says, recalling the characteristics of glass which inspired him as a young
student of industrial design.
An essential element in Varrela’s career has been his interest in solvin pedagogical problems. As a teacher in the University of Art and Design
Helsinki in 1987-1993, he contributed significantly to the development of teaching of abstract glass art in Finland. This phase culminated in
the graduation of the first university-educated Masters of glass art.
When work-related administrative tasks ballooned out of proportion to exclude all else, VarreIa left seven years ago his position as rector of
the Tampere school of Art and Media to become a free artist again. It was a workable solution since he had maintained his artistic career
alongside a role in education.
During the 1990s, Varrela was also instrumental in starting a Venetian fashion in our glass art, an otherwise fairly unusual phenomenon in the
North. After the start in 1993 numerous workshops under Venetian master glassmakers have guided glass students into the world of making
and blowing Italian art glass.
In 1990, Vesa Varrela mounted the exhibition “Memories of the 90s” in the Finnish Glass Museum. Looking back to it now, almost two
decades later, one feels it was aptly named, as his latest solo exhibition “Short Cuts” exhibited at the museum 1995.
Since 1985 Varrela has been exhibiting in more than one hundred group exhibtions and has had around 25 solo exhibitions in Finland and
Many of the installations exhibited during last years, combining glass and scrap metal, wood and other "waste" material, have become
classics in museum collections all over the world and in private collections.
In recent years Varrela has also worked with incalmo and ring-technique, renewing the colorful hollow cylinder shapes in the spirit of Kaj
Franck’s traditional coloured plates. The work also serves as a splendid proof of the skills of master blower Jaakko Liikanen. The results are
extremely interesting, unique glass pieces with fresh motifs.
Varrela’s renewed and wide-ranging glass works include large pieces that are part of public space, architecture as well as the interior
decorating sector combined with sheet glass in various techniques; he often uses sandblasting, which gives glass a three dimensional feel
with light and shadows.
Varrela has even been using glass as a part of scenography of modern dance! For modern Dance Theatre MD he made stage design and
scenography inspired by Samuel Beckett’s short story “ROCKABY”. Work combined choreography’s sharply crafted movement material
with glass artist Vesa Varrela’s beautiful stage design.
Latest works since 2008 have been demanding applications and new exciting shapes with motifs and graphics digitally printed and fired on
tempered sheet glass, with “Surfing herrings and fishes” in main role.
“SURFING FISHES” is an apologia for our natural waters: rivers, ponds, lakes and seas to be taken care of! To see our fishes still swimming
around us in the waters, not only surfing on glass.
Participating recently in workshops in Czech and Slovakia Varrela has had a possibility to widen his work in the field of blown glass and
develope complicated hot glass techniques with some of the best master glass blowers in Europe.
Among the many facets of Vesa Varrela’s art, the role of the glass artist seems to become stronger as he grows and matures from an
empiricist towards the position reserved for him in Finnish glass art. His dynamic character has provided plenty of capability for renewal, and
whatever paths his art will next take, in all likelihood they will provide an interesting experience for those watching his progress.
Like the rest of the new Finnish designer generation, he is international. His exhibitions have been displayed abroad since the 1980s. Varrela
is also an experienced designer, exhibition architect and collector of exhibitions of Finnish culture and glass art exhibitions seen around the
Dr. Heikki Matiskainen
The Finnish Glass Museum