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Artist presentation: Janne Rahunen

Photos and text: Tuukka Palonen

Janne Rahunen's exhibition “Reticelloa ja vapaata” (“Reticello and free”) opened on 19 November in Tampere at Galleria Himmelblau. The largest exhibition of Rahunen's career includes two exhibition halls, one of which, as the name suggests, features reticello works and other free art. Rahunen, who has worked as a freelance artist since summer 2022, has ambition and a desire to do something new and different.

Who is Janne Rahunen?

Janne Rahunen (b. 1987) from Nuutajärvi is part of a young generation of glassmakers. Rahunen is originally from Vantaa and started making glass by studying at the Nuutajärvi Glass School from 2011 to 2016. Tavastia Vocational College's glass programme is the first degree-level vocational education programme in the field of glass in Finland and was launched in 1993 on the initiative of the late Oiva Toikka.

Before glass, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry. But the job didn't feel like me and I was looking for my calling. I had previously studied poetry and played the drums and had an interest in working artistically. I wanted to work with my hands and came across glass online. I read a lot of literature on the subject and found a glass school in Nuutajärvi. I was accepted into the glass school, left my job and started studying in Nuutajärvi.

His studies in poetry and later lectures by visual artist Jukka Teittinen at the Glass School taught him about approaches to art and how to interpret it.

At the glass school, I learned to look at art with a different eye and to discuss it. Jukka motivated everyone and taught us the basics: how to look at art and how to discuss art. In the first lecture, Teittinen said: ''If you don't make your picture, who will? No one can make the picture you make.'' That's why it's important to make your own art.

Rahunen has a religious history. He sees similarities between spirituality and the approach to art.

I think that in art and spirituality there is a similar undercurrent, a sense of something greater behind the substance itself.

Janne Rahunen

While attending glass school, Rahunen was already working for other glass artists, making glass for Markku Salo, Heikki Viinikainen, Camilla Moberg and Tuomas Ervamaa, among others. After the Arts Promotion Centre awarded Rahunen a grant in 2016 to develop the reticello technique, Rahunen began to focus more and more on his own work, in addition to commissioned works. Since summer 2022, Rahunen has been working as a freelance artist. This means that the artist concentrates only on his own work, and Rahunen is not currently making glass for other artists.

It was not an easy decision, as working as a freelance artist is different: there are financial risks and the work requires a greater mental capacity. Ideas are not born under pressure and stress, where there is no room for thinking. So the conditions for the emergence of thoughts and ideas must be created: time must be set aside for creative thinking and there must be room for free thought. With artistic freedom comes a new kind of responsibility.

Reticello and mirroring technique

Rahunen's artistic work is based on the special techniques of glassblowing. Rahunen has focused particularly on the reticello technique and mirroring works.

''In my reticello works, I primarily seek visuality: harmony, good forms and beauty in general.''

Reticello (Italian for "glass with a small net") is a challenging glassblowing technique which is rare in Finland. Reticello has its roots in 16th century Italy. Reticello sculptures are characterised by a grid-like pattern of intersecting glass canes forming small squares with a small air bubble in the middle.

Reticello is challenging and technical work that requires persistence. Many of my reticello sculptures are three-layered, which adds an extra challenge to the work

Blue Solid, Aurora Solid and Fuchsia Solid in the Galleria Himmelblau exhibition.

I often apply reticello to solid glass. I find the solidity of glass in reticello exciting because it adds optical dimensions to the pieces. Viewed from different angles, the work looks different as the solidity of the glass highlights different parts of the sculpture. The solidity also brings depth to the works, when things happen under the surface or inside the surface.

Rahunen's disciplined Italian technique is counterbalanced by a freer way of glassblowing, which is also on display in another hall at Galleria Himmelblau. The free art section of the exhibition includes works made with mirroring techniques, but also a lot of other glass art.

It's nice to have something different to do after the reticello, where there's not so much pressure and I can really let go.

Janne Rahunen ja Fancy Forest

The shiny, colourful and mirror-like works on display in front of the Kivimuuri in Nuutajärvi and at Finlayson Art Area in the summer are Rahunen's handiwork.

Rahunen sees, in the works, a criticism of the unnatural.

Why is it that nowadays, starting with home decoration, everything is so clinical and unnatural? It seems contradictory that while we are protecting nature, we are constantly developing ourselves further and further away from nature. My mirroring technique pieces symbolise this very contradiction between nature and human development.

Rahunen has ambition. His works are typically large and the ensembles need a lot of space.

Even when I was studying at the Nuutajärvi Glass School, I often took the biggest blowpipes out of the storage room. I want to make large and spectacular art. The kind that you can feel.

Janne Rahunen ja taidelasia

Janne Rahunen's workshop. A reticello work in the centre and a series of mirrored pieces around it. Artists have different ways of working and are inspired by different things. Some tune in after the sun goes down, some like long and intense sessions, some find the flow after a great experience. When does Rahunen feel that he is at his best?

Mornings are great for hot shop work. You have to go to the hot shop at six in the morning and everything has to go right from the start. There's a lot of pressure and excitement and I enjoy it. Mornings are generally the times when I find that my thoughts flow best. Movement is another important thing. Often when I'm jogging, I plan my works. Idleness is also an essential element of creative design. New ideas are born when deadlines are not looming and when there is no pressure from a big workload.

Dreams and the future

The next thing Rahunen would like to do is to put on a museum exhibition. He has not yet done so and it would also be a logical next step after several gallery exhibitions. Museum exhibitions differ from galleries in that museums are typically publicly owned and museum exhibitions are aimed at a wider audience

On the other hand, Rahunen is interested in all kinds of new things. What would Rahunen do if he had endless resources at his disposal??

I have a dream of a sculpture park, where I would do all the glass work myself. There would be outdoor sculptures that I made myself in the studio at Nuutajärvi, and the interior would have lamps, door handles and dishes. It would be awesome to say that I blew the windows of this studio myself!

Janne Rahunen: Reticelloa ja vapaata exhibition

The largest solo exhibition of Rahunen's work to date is on display at Galleria Himmelblau in Tampere. The exhibition at Finlayson from 19 November to 30 December 2022 will include two large halls, one with reticello works and the other with works using different glassblowing techniques. Rahunen has designed the works himself and has been making them since the spring in collaboration with glassblower Otto Koivuranta. Admission to the exhibition is free. [Linkki:] More information about the exhibitionLisätietoa näyttelystä

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Tuukka Palonen

The author is a freelance writer originally from Nuutajärvi and one of the producers of the Mitäs Mitäs Mitäs festival organized in Nuutajärvi.

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