Exhibition Collage: The Eloquence of Paper

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Harri Kalha, Ph.D., (b. 1962) is a visual artist as well as a scholar and a non-fiction writer. In the late 1980s Kalha frequented the “drawing school” of the University of Helsinki and participated in various art courses. A year spent at Académie Roederer in Paris secured his artistic conviction. His central concern became the line and linearity, the exploration of which has since migrated from the pencil to scissors. In 1997, Kalha earned his doctorate in art history and moved on to pursue a prolific career in art scholarship and writing. The recipient of several book awards, Kalha was even nominated twice for the prestigious Finlandia award in non-fiction literature. He continued to make pictures, however, especially between book projects, and egged on by personal losses. Recently, the pressure for visual creation has become too overwhelming to be tackled “on the side”. Today Kalha, who likes to think of himself as a University educated folk artist, devotes 100 percent of his time to his chosen medium, collage.

Exhibition Collage: The Eloquence of Paper
ars gallery (5-13-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001)
11–18 (last day 11–15)
Free entry, welcome!

Harri Kalha: Cho Cho Chan, 2023

Harri Kalha: Cho Cho Chan, 2023


Ruminations on Collage

Collage is an art of recycling and re-contextualization: giving old images and papers new meanings. While collage artworks often flirt with surprise and absurdity, there are also subtler levels of meaning that arise from aesthetic elements (such as the textures and hues of aged paper), as well as from various cutting techniques.

All art, beyond technical explorations, entails self-expression: opening up, bit by bit, to others and to oneself. Like all tedious handwork, cutting and pasting can have a grounding or soothing effect. Yet in order to elevate “therapy” into something worthy of artistic presentation, the work must be driven by an underlying idea, be it aesthetic or conceptual.

The practice of collage is largely about decision making: killing your darlings. I personally prefer those fatal decisions to be conceptually informed, but while the concept may be more or less “literal”, the mood of a work remains subjectively expressive. My personality tends to melancholia, and my humor has a sardonic edge to it.

Technical gimmicks, visual puns and unexpected juxtapositions are part and parcel of this wondrous medium, but lighthearted surprise shouldn’t overpower the more tenderly personal levels of expression.

Harri Kalha, Ph.D., collage maker

Harri Kalha: Shibari, 2023

Harri Kalha: Shibari, 2023


Banner photo: Harri Kalha: Scenario, 2023