Friday, 16 November 2012

Espoo: Jaume Plensa in the midst of dreams

Jaume Plensa: Day. Night. (2012).
It is a dark but far from stormy night. I head towards the most interesting light in Tapiola, Espoo, Finland: a colour-changing statue sitting high up in the air that looks exactly like its cousins in Jaume Plensa's artwork called Conversation in Nice that he has created at Place Masséna in Nice, France. However, there doesn't seem to be too much conversation in the air by the main entrance to the exhibition centre Weegee. The statue on top of the pillar in Espoo is all alone whereas in Nice there are seven companions who communicate between themselves in the language of colours.
I enter the exhibition centre and get a warm welcome: there is free entry on Wednesday evenings at 6-8 pm. My target is the Spanish-born artist Jaume Plensa's (1955-) exhibition at EMMA, Espoo Museum of Modern Art on the upper floor.
Jaume Plensa: Nuage IV (2012).
I am captivated by the almost egg-shaped cloud that consists entirely of letters and characters in different languages. Letters join together to create words, words move you, you get carried away by your thoughts and it all becomes a story.
As always, dreams and words cast their shadows that each have their own stories.
Jaume Plensa: In the Midst of Dreams (2009).
The large, silent (but perhaps not mute) heads rest on a bed of white rocks. Despite the outward calm, I can sense anxiety inside them, in the midst of dreams. There are few words on their faces, such as ignorance, wrath, desire. Am I reading the words inside their heads or what someone else is thinking when he or she sees them?

On the other side of the large exhibition hall there are a couple of flat human figures hanging in the air, with thoughts curling above them. Imagination is more important than knowledge. The man sitting on a bench is wondering Enough or too much? The walker states Exuberance is beauty. It is so easy to move very slowly from one work of art to another and let it get to you.
Jaume Plensa: Glückauf? (2004).
There are few visitors at this hour and the atmosphere is that of peace. The curtains that are suspended before the back wall consist of letters but what is their story? What do they say? At first I have no idea but when I get closer to the gently turning strings of letters, I realize that there are indeed words. I walk to the left and start mumbling to my self, hoping that nobody will hear me as I read slowly from top to bottom.  Article 1 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. 

Declaration of Human Rights.  It has taken a lot of work and patience to build this work of art but it will take so much longer to see the declaration become true.

I slip beneath the white figures sitting on the walls, their heads facing down. Hear no evil. The dark rooms invite me, only max 10 people at a time, and the eerie, white heads hanging in the air, lit so beautifully, silence me to study their faces on which few words are written. Day, Night, Moon, Sun. Someone's face spells Air, on another I read Poetry. In the other dark room next door the little heads and torsos have other stories written all over them. Panic. Stress. Mania. Life is not but a dream.

I descend the stairs and leave the quiet of the exhibition hall, to meet the happy noises of children who are just getting ready to leave after a birthday party at the museum café. Dreaming of what?
I turn my eyes off the concrete path towards the lawn and the trees. Some of them are kept warm by knit graffiti. Somebody's fulfilled his or her dream by dressing the tree trunks.
I follow the quiet Ahertajankatu street back towards the center of Tapiola and its maze of shops and buildings that are far less pleasing to the eye than the thoughtful artwork I just met. My thoughts escape these autumn surroundings and fly towards the Mediterranean and another work by Jaume Plensa. Nomade sits on the bastion by the sea in Antibes, France, having stopped on his travels to gaze at the sea, his body formed of large white letters. I remember stepping inside Nomade, sitting down, turning my eyes towards the azure sea and thinking about where I am, where will I go next.

Thanks, EMMA.


  1. I can't come to Finland to visit Plensa's exhibition but I saw it through your eyes, thank you! Have you seen his breathtaking and tinkling work at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai? I'm sure you'd love it.
    Take care,

  2. Francesca, haven't unfortunately seen that. It sounds like pictures wouldn't be able to do any justice to "World's Voices" in Dubai :)