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FAIRYTALE CREATURES, REAL ADVENTURES

In both her individual artworks and exhibition displays, Jasmin Anoschkin carries the possibility for play. Upon encountering the artworks, people embark on sincerely child-like behaviour, peeling away their cynical shells if only for a moment. It is usually allowed to touch the glazed and colourful ceramic pieces; they can be stroked, and the bigger ones even hugged. When people visit her studio, Anoschkin invites them to play. The artworks meet, talk and celebrate birthdays together.

The fairytale dimension brings out the essential, and the essential is actually quite simple. In Anoschkin's reality, everyone is equal, and each creature deserves respect for its mere existence. Anoschkin portrays difference and imperfection; she depicts identities deviating from the norm, the pride to be oneself. Her exhibitions are empowering and permissive, her artworks easy to recognize and to identify with.

Images

Platinum Ancestor Elephant

JASMIN ANOSCHKIN (Finnish, b.1980)

Platinum Ancestor Elephant, 2019

ceramic with platinum glaze

17" H

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Eyeliner Coyote Platinum Mama

JASMIN ANOSCHKIN (Finnish, b.1980)

Eyeliner Coyote Platinum Mama, 2019

ceramic with platinum glaze

41" W x 24" H

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Platinum LongKiss

JASMIN ANOSCHKIN (Finnish, b.1980)

Platinum LongKiss, 2019

ceramic with platinum glaze

34.5" H

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Description

I can't help but think that they are an improved version of the world of commercial reality aimed at children. Growing up surrounded by standards of beauty and conventional aesthetics, children should rather have power animals, imperfectly shaped role models.

Despite this, the actual models for Anoschkin's sculptures are found in the world of toys, ornaments and souvenirs. Anoschkin does not derive ideas for her artworks from biology books. Her sculptures don't have species-appropriate characteristics, and a donkey might bear more resemblance to the souvenirs sold at Turkish tourist bazaars than the actual animal. In effect, what she portrays is the image of animals constructed by humans. What is exceptionally interesting in this meta-illustration of animals is that she emphasizes the most awkward characteristics of the man-made animal image, the disproportionate scale and the colour palette detached from reality. In doing so, she laughs at stereotypes and takes the step that the toy industry is afraid to take. She bravely leaps over the standardizing reductions, effortlessly bypassing the Barbie aesthetics. At the same time, Anoschkin reminds us that estrangement also lives within ourselves; we can never completely know ourselves, but identification teaches us to also understand ourselves and our prejudices. Prejudices aimed at not just others but also ourselves. The experience of otherness can be fatal, if tolerance for difference hasn't been allowed to develop.

Anoschkin has created a world more naïvistic than the works of some of the self-proclaimed naïve artists. Her artworks are more genuine and frank, with no attempts to woo the public. It is in this sincerity that they manage to seduce their viewers.

There is a saying about 'wisdom from the mouths of babes'. Compared to naïve art, outsider art is appreciated in visual arts expressly for its honesty. Honesty is also Anoschkin's trump card. The spontaneity that she has managed to preserve in her art is related to outsider art's straightforwardness. The artworks are not ironic, conceptual nor affected.

Nevertheless, the artworks are not hovering in a vacuum. Even though Anoschkin's world is autonomous, its points of convergence with the history of sculpture, pop art and expressionism are evident. Anoschkin is particularly noteworthy due to her being able to simultaneously utilize art history and break its conventions.  

In terms of storytelling, the most interesting element is how she shapes her own themes and topics. In twenty years, individual artworks have grown into a world, a gesamtkunstwerk, where each piece is part of a gradually emerging story. And this story has no beginning nor end; it is rather a mosaic, a fragmented novel ruled by magic realism.

Anoschkin has said that producing text is difficult for her. She often resorts to wordlists when wanting to put something in writing. Her verbal courage has grown during the years, which is evident in the titles of her artworks. Nowadays, even the titles have the makings of a story in them.

Anoschkin has created a world resembling a dreamlike state. In this state, there are no fixed subjects or predetermined connections, but the whole is in constant flux. She creates layers, where the new artworks are born on the base of the previous ones, referencing to and borrowing from them. On a quick glance, the individual pieces may resemble each other, but on a closer look, the amount of differences is endless.

THE HANDS HOLD THE POWER

Jasmin Anoschkin creates her artworks by hand. She sculpts wood, builds clay and draws with a brush. She concretely creates her artworks. This is especially highlighted with ceramics. In her fingers, the clay bends into incredible shapes and the finish, such as glazing, breathes life into the pieces.

The larger ceramic sculptures in particular show references to the ceramic art tradition. As the clay is moulded into large hollow shapes, it holds the balance required by clay for the shape to be preserved during firing. This balance brings to mind some of the best creators of abstract ceramic sculptures. Anoschkin's form is never slack. It stands proudly on its feet.

In her figurines, Anoschkin often leaves the traces of moulding, squeezing and building visible in the clay. The bumpy surface gives the viewer a haptic experience, tempting them to hold the pieces in their hands. While holding the piece, a question might creep to their mind: Could I have created this? This is a relevant question, stemming from our innate desire to create something concrete.

In the wooden sculptures, her handprint is indirect, as woodworking requires tools. On the other hand, Anoschkin finishes the surface by painting, affording it a more direct surface. Painting enables broader playfulness than glazing, making the colour palette of the wood sculptures clearer than in the ceramic pieces. On the other hand, one wood sculpture may entail a massive amount of different hues, with some brushstroke lines included. The scale of the wood sculptures varies like that of the ceramic sculptures, but it is more inclined towards larger artworks. Anoschkin's wood sculptures have been acquired by many Finnish institutions to be displayed in public spaces.

Like sculptors often, Jasmin Anoschkin also draws enthusiastically. She draws constantly, sometimes from imagination, sometimes with a model. She has retained the essential character of drawing overriding academic erudition. Her drawing is like handwriting, recognizable and unique. Anoschkin gains the themes for her drawings from two sources. The images drawn on paper are based on observation, and they have been created classically with a model. Mind you, Anoschkin rarely draws a face to her models, but the nude human body might be topped off with a unicorn's head.

The second notable drawing technique favoured by Anoschkin is drawing on ceramics with a brush and glaze. Her ceramic tiles and plates, unique or in series, are often filled with narrative scenes drawn with blue glaze. In these drawings, Anoschkin lets her sculpture figures loose. The creatures party and rest, drink champagne and eat cake. Anoschkin draws the world she has created, while handing us its key. These scenes painted on ceramics highlight the artworks' playful nature.

In her recent exhibitions, Anoschkin has expanded her artistic role to performative video art. She performs in the videos herself, but not as herself. She turns into a unicorn, a different kind of wild horse, who proudly takes on any tribulations, rejoicing in herself. These artworks are visual paeans to being different and their silent humour empowers the viewer.

In her oeuvre so far, Jasmin Anoschkin has created a carnivalistic gesamtkunstwerk. She has nurtured her own archetypes far removed from the mundane reality. Through her art, the viewers may study themselves and their own attitudes. Through her sculptures, they can find themselves new roles, helping them to come to terms with their own and others' shortcomings.

Anoschkin's art is beneficial. She brings play into the artworld in a way that does not offer pompous amusement park experiences, but remains at the level of play, in the same part of consciousness with dreams and fairytales.

People who have fallen in love with Anoschkin's artworks often express their gratitude for them. They are grateful for having been given permission to be naïve and funny, detached from everyday life. They are delighted for having been allowed to believe in a fairytale, for even a brief moment.

                                                   — "Play Is a Gauge of Humanity" by Veikko Halmetoja, Gallerist and Curator

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