Born 1976 I Lives and works in Pepino, Spain
Riiko Sakkinen is known for his drawings and paintings highlighting the world’s economic and social problems. Sakkinen uses characters and products from popular culture, turning the product’s message on its head. “In a perfect world, I’d be unemployed as an artist,” says Sakkinen, meaning that without the world’s social problems he would have nothing to criticize, and hence nothing to paint.
In his current exhibition, Late Night Capitalism, Sakkinen has focused particularly on late capitalism, which can be defined by increased, excessive social control and the power that money has over people. In the main work in the exhibition, Sakkinen has painted Pinocchio, a symbol of lying, holding a sign saying: “Capitalism is the best of all possible worlds”. And yet, his nose has not grown, leaving it up to the viewer to decide whether or not he is lying. The splashes of paint in the background are named after different forms of capitalism. They symbolize the way that the capitalist system is able to transform itself like a chameleon regardless of the situation or the time period, and the way that the world simultaneously unwittingly adjusts to this. This is also signalled in an object piece showing boxing gloves, titled Capitalism Will Everlast.
Sakkinen’s works require a lot of unseen labour, which mainly involves him reading and educating himself on societal phenomena. He particularly uses images of food products, and an idea for a work can come from a daily visit to the supermarket. His choices of colours imitate the bright, enticing tones of commercial products and adverts promoting them. In addition to using elements of pop art, Sakkinen has invented his own movement, turbo realism, to describe his art. “Turbo Realist art has to be relevant and understandable to its consumers,” Sakkinen says. It is important to him that viewers can recognize and understand the context of his artworks.
Sakkinen parallels and plays with opposites: a commercial product can be accompanied by an anti-capitalistic slogan. He uses irony: the message on the surface and the one hidden beneath it are not the same. Sakkinen’s art thus first invites the viewer to laugh at the straightforward expression in his works, and then to think about their actual significance.