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Matti Peltokangas: Lauri Kristian Relander, 1996. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: Helsinki Art Museum / Yehia Eweis

Lauri Kristian Relander Memorial

Artist Matti Peltokangas

Hesperian esplanadi, Etu-Töölö, Helsinki

The sculptor Matti Peltokangas’ proposal ‘From bottom to top, from top to bottom’ was the winning entry in the competition for a memorial to Lauri Kristian Relander (1883-1942), Finland’s second president. The work was unveiled on November 29, 1996, off Runeberginkatu street in the Hesperia park. The work belongs to the collections of the Helsinki Art Museum.

The memorial comprises four large cubes of red granite, their sides measuring 2.08 metres each. The cubes have been placed on a quadrangle with a cross-formed passage between them. Sharp diagonal lines have been cut into their surfaces, running in opposite directions on facing cubes. The treatment of the stone, typical of Peltokangas, reduces the massiveness of the material and introduces elements from graphic art and painting. The monumental work was made completely by hand by the artist himself.

The Relander memorial befits well the surrounding 1920s and ’30s modernist urban architecture. On a more symbolic plane, it contains elements of Relander’s presidency which was characterized by an emphasis on foreign relations and a stabilization of the Finnish constitution and democracy. This is seen both in the abstract forms and the dynamic treatment of the stones’ surface, which emphasizes movement, and in the way Finnish bedrock, red granite, has been applied to create a balanced ensemble open in all directions on the street level.

The statue talks to you:

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