Sebastian Reis Leviathan
No power on earth can be compared to Leviathan, the sea monster described in the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. The image of its force has been used manifold on different occasions within cultural history. Sebastian Reis’ exhibition Leviathan and its centre piece, from which the show is taking its title, link this untameable power to art and its potential of spiritual and worldly impact, where the role of an artist is at the same time deadly serious and totally absurd. In doing so, the exhibition draws on the effect that art always has had on narrations, stories, and therefore on our learned perception during the course of history. By using and transforming familiar images and placing himself within them, Reis plays with interchangeable narratives, their different outcomes and influences on the past, as well as on the present. In this way, he shows that stories might not have to be taken as seriously as they seem in the first place and that they are depending on a variety of related factors.
Reis reflects in Leviathan on questions of representation that are formed through cultural expectations. Within his work, time and its scales play a crucial role, where plaster casts of air ventilation pipes are meant to be mistaken for fossils of a long past geological time. While working with and playfully altering history, Reis touches on the notion of simultaneity with its recurring forms, themes, and causalities that impact our understanding of the human condition.
Leviathan develops from an experience of curiosity concerning our less discussed surrounding elements and the role they play for our being. It follows the idea that our cultural perceptions are shaped through images and stories, which can be repeated, changed, interpreted – and therefore (de-)mystified. Fact and fiction blend together, encourage us to rethink narratives, and discuss their inherent absurdity.
Sebastian Reis (b. 1985, Austria) is a Helsinki-based visual artist whose practice combines painting, photography, and sculptural elements. His approach emerges from a conglomeration of subjective experiences with culture-historical and art-historical occurrences. In his work, he is often exploring the contradiction between monumentality and ephemerality. Reis received an MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, Germany. His works have been recently shown at The Finnish Museum of Photography (FIN), Galeria Pada (PT), The Museum of National History/Frederiksborg Castle (DK), Ljungbergmuseet (SWE), Galleria Ars Libera (FIN), SÍM Gallery (ISL).
The exhibition is supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
The artist is present at the gallery on Saturday, 4 September 2021, from 12–2 pm.
Video by: Pia Männikkö