A STRONGER BACKBONE
08 May 2018, Pepino
The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.
General Carl von Clausewitz
Three weeks ago I went through a neurosurgical discectomy, a removal of three herniated discs that pressed my spinal cord. Before the operation I was in a perfect shape but the doctors said that it was a miracle I still had precision in my hands. They couldn't believe that my profession is to make detailed drawings. I agreed to act before it was too late.
Now I'm learning to be a couch potato by medical prescription. I could watch all films and read all books I ever wanted but I find it painful to concentrate. This would be the best time to be painting in my crummy studio when it's neither freezing cold nor boiling hot. Yet it's the best season to wear the uncomfortable cervical collar too.
Few more weeks rest and I'm going to be stronger than ever - now enhanced with titanium stabilization system of the backbone.
WHITE MANíS GRAVE
13 April 2018, Pepino
I've seen it all, I have seen the trees
I've seen the willow leaves dancing in the breeze
I've seen a man killed by his best friend
And lives that were over before they were spent
I've seen what I was — I know what I'll be
I've seen it all — there is no more to see!
All my friends said that Malarone, the antimalarial medication I was taking in Benin, didn’t have any unwanted side effects. My experience was worse, it filled my soul with darkness. Was it the drug or Africa that caused me mental health issues? Was it the chemical compound or the humid and hot place called White Man’s Grave? I felt anxious, sad and empty, suffered discouragement, sleeplessness and lack of appetite (My African diet made me lose five kilograms). Or was it my whiteness and privilege that didn’t cope with the West African poverty?
I met great people, did a fantastic art project and set up a portrait painting business that could employ two locals permanently, if it works out. The voyage was a total success but I feel destroyed.
I’m too old for adventures. I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen China. I’ve slept in a watch tower of the Great Wall. I’ve slept in a textile factory in Shenzhen. I’ve seen civil wars. I’ve seen drug wars. I’ve seen refugee camps. I’ve seen shanty towns. I’ve looked down the barrel of an AK-47. I’ve been arrested by police and militia men. I’ve been investigated by a security service. I’ve received death threats. I’ve been on TV. I don’t know how much life I have left but I want to spend it at home, sain et sauf.
WEST AFRICA WANTS TO PORTRAY YOU
18 March 2018, Grand-Popo
We are launching Salon de Peinture Grand-Popo today.
The world-famous visual artist Riiko Sakkinen came to visit the village of Grand-Popo in Benin, West Africa, and met Gustavo Afaihoun, a local jack-of-all-trades. Sakkinen’s love for the hand painted signs in the streets, especially in barber and hairdresser parlors, transformed in their conversations to a business idea consisting of promoting this unique visual culture beyond the borders of Africa and create jobs in the humble village where most of the people live without running water and electricity.
Hand painted signs are vanishing soon - printing is faster, easier and cheaper. Our mission is to keep the pop art tradition alive.
Now you can have a piece of West Afirca on your wall. Order an authentic hairdresser sign with your portrait! A great gift idea. Or maybe you prefer a picture of your favorite actress, singer or politician? All signs feature the text Salon de Peinture Grand-Popo.
All we need is a photograph and our painters in Grand-Popo start creating your portrait. Conceptual smartness, aesthetic quality and fair trade are guaranteed.
The signs are painted with enamel on wooden board. The size is 50x60cm. The works are signed by the painter Price: 500€ including worldwide shipping.
DINNER AFTER DARK
14 March 2018, Grand-Popo
I will never forget today's dinner. My friend invited me to his house. His mother cooked us simple spaghetti with boiled eggs and chili. What impressed me was the happiness of the family and the pride they showed of their humble home made of natural fiber, the sand of the beach as the floor. They have neither running water nor electricity, the only source of light was the flashlight of my mobile phone.
A CLUMSY ARTIST IN AFRICA
09 March 2018, Grand-Popo
When I did a residency in 2011 in Syria I sprained my ankle when dancing on table in an open-air discotheque in Aleppo. I thought that I was going to a fierce dictatorship and found myself in a wild multicultural party, which made me overexcited. After that I couldn’t walk for two weeks which limited my research and adventures.
Last Monday, I arrived in Grand-Popo, Benin, where I’m in a five-week residency at Villa Karo, a Finnish-African Cultural Center. The first thing I did was to fall down in a staircase and hurt my ankle again. This time there’s no interesting story to tell. I guess that this residency will consists basically of sitting in the terrace and watching impotently the ocean waves.