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New public work of art from Tommi Toija in Alppila Upper Secondary School in Helsinki

25.8.2020 10:23

Tommi Toija: King of the hill, 2019 / Photo: HAM/Kirsi Halkola

A new public work of art by artist and sculptor Tommi Toija (born 1974) has been completed in the courtyard of Alppila Upper Secondary School in Helsinki. The work King of the Hill (Kukkulan kuningas) is a figure standing on top of a sphere, ready to embrace the world with their arms spread wide. Water slowly streams from the palms of the figure and falls in the pool surrounding the work. The work is cast in bronze. The sphere has a diameter of 140 cm and it has been darkened by patina. The figure is 90 cm tall and it has been painted a light skin colour.

The pool of water in the courtyard of the school inspired Toija to incorporate water into the static sculpture. The artist has been fascinated by the tradition of pools and fountains for some time now. One of the most well-known of Toija’s works, Bad Bad Boy from 2013 located in Jätkäsaari, is a fountain in the form of a boy peeing. The Divine Comedy (2014), on the other hand, which was exhibited at the Amos Anderson Art Museum, is a dark fountain in which numerous figures bathe beneath a peeing boy, among skulls and spouting water from their orifices.

According to the artist, the figure in the newly finished work is a student setting out into the world with open arms. After upper secondary school, many young people may feel unsure about the future, but they also feel hopeful and have an urge to embrace the world, which is distinctive of that age. According to Toija, young people are innovative and keep the world moving. The gushing and flowing water in the work is a reference to this constant movement.

Toija’s body of work includes sculptures, reliefs, drawings and watercolours. Regardless of the medium, all of the pieces are joined together by their theme: a confused-looking figure. The confusion related to being a part of this world is a human feeling that many viewers can identify with. The features of the figure are similar from work to work. The naked, light-skinned and bald figure is wide-eyed and looks lost. “I see the entire human life span as a confused phase,” Toija says.

The City of Helsinki adheres to the percentage financing principle, which means that approximately one per cent of the City’s new construction and renovation expenses are dedicated to the creation of new public art. In recent years, extensive construction efforts have made it possible to commission art for many public buildings around the city. HAM Helsinki Art Museum serves as an arts expert in these projects, and the works are added to HAM’s art collection.

Tommi Toija: King of the Hill, 2019 / Photo: HAM/Kirsi Halkola