Aleksi Tolonen

Aleksi Tolonen: ...ja täältä pesee!, detail of an installation

Aleksi Tolonen: Senkka nenästä

Boys will be boys. Or will they, and what do we mean by saying so? Visual Artist Aleksi Tolonen’s work surveys masculinities and the cultural images of men and boys. 

The paintings and installations of his 2008 series of works Turpiin vaan ja onnea draw inspiration from Tolonen’s conflicting relationship with violence, which appears to be a combination of fascination, disgust and confusion. Tolonen sees the origins of this contradiction in the way men are generally taught to deal with force. From a young age boys are, on the one hand, told that violence is not acceptable, but on the other hand many cultural structures actually encourage violence among and within men.

Technically Tolonen’s work is versatile, and always theme-driven. In Turpiin vaan ja onnea, the gray areas of violence become less dark with creative material choices. With humor and an element of surprise Tolonen balances out the seriousness of the subject, showing us the importance of seeing other tones behind the black and white frameworks.

In New York, Tolonen was observing the differences between the American and the Finnish way of portraying male masculinity. He is especially interested in American manifestations of masculinity in the context of sports and sports enthusiasm.