Petri Ala-Maunus paints dazzlingly detailed surreal landscape paintings that invite the viewer into another time or world. Terrains covered in overgrown vegetation, washed by tropical rain while storms howl, and, conversely, misty landscapes that radiate peace are constructed using multiple different images of landscapes to form varieties of meta-landscape.
The new exhibition takes its title from the 1966 film Mondo Bizarro, which investigates various extraordinary, shocking phenomena around the world in pseudo-documentary style. In the spirit of the film, Ala-Maunus’ exhibition depicts strange scenes that are the product of the imagination, creating intense, distorted worlds alongside idyllic images. The unusual and the strange are also manifested in the supports that he uses: some of the paintings have been made on spherical bases, while some of the canvases are stretched onto thick, box-like supports, with the landscapes extending over the sides. Menacing beings have crept into some of these works, inspired by tales from the Bible and ancient mythology. The evil, strange and chaotic has, however, been removed from view and an attempt made to paint over it with images of paradise. Two worlds, the blurred and ominous and the meticulously depicted harmonious landscape, meet in these two-part paintings.
In recent years, Ala-Maunus’ works have been seen, for instance, in the Ars Fennica candidates exhibition at Amos Rex art museum, where he had a 14-metre work that became a favourite of the public. The La La Land exhibition, produced jointly by Salo and Jyväskylä Art Museums, featured works from the last 12 years alongside new ones. Ala-Maunus is represented, for example, in the collections of Kiasma, Amos Rex, Sara Hildén Art Museum, Helsinki Art Museum, the Saastamoinen Foundation, Tampere Art Museum, Turku Art Museum and the Wihuri Foundation.