POWER by Inka-Maaria Jurvanen
d. m. allison gallery, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant
”Continuing through July 4, 2015
With titles like “Anarchy” and “Mutiny,” it comes as no surprise that Inka-Maaria Jurvanen’s work is political. Although her narratives are somewhat oblique, it is apparent that she uses her drawings and paintings to comment on society, religion, the environment and other politically charged subjects. Working in pencil and acrylic on the warm patina of plywood or veneer wood, this Finnish artist creates a desolate world inhabited by decapitated bodies, disembodied limbs and prison-like spaces. Her enigmatic scenes, with their sharply delineated shadows, are reminiscent of the Surrealist landscapes of Dali or de Chirico.
“Clarity” has disturbing elements that Hieronymus Bosch might have imagined, including a naked man diving from a whale half-buried in the side of a cliff, a figure with a scorpion’s tail for a head and fragmented forms scattered among mysterious blobs on the beach. A tall ship with large black sails anchored just off the coast is foreboding. Given the title of the show, “Power,” one assumes that the conquerors have arrived and are wreaking havoc on the local inhabitants.
A series of drawings in the back gallery uses various types of desks to represent the oppressive nature of working in an office, where employees perform menial tasks for their superiors. Jurvanen liberates the desk in imaginative ways: in “The Desk-Mutiny III” it becomes the head of a beast that uses its hind legs to kick a stool across the room; in “The Desk VII” it has fallen down a narrow shaft, breaking apart in the process, and one of its legs is being held by a disembodied arm wearing a cuffed shirt.
The “Mountain” series is a provocative critique of the wielding of power and its often devastating effects. In “Mountain II” a massive figure is surrounded by beseeching worshippers. The godlike creature’s head is a structure with arched windows that reveal the horizon beyond of the cave-like space he inhabits. Jurvanen also weighs in on the powerful oil industry with “Rivals III,” in which petroleum tanks push wind turbines into the background.”