Pekka Kainulainen – Eternal Stories from the Mirror of our Minds

Pekka Kainulainen – Photo by Tomi Joutsen, 2018. Pieni

“Suddenly these memories from far away came into my mind and after all these years and decades I want to say: If stormy days and bad winds try to wipe away your joy of life don´t give up! You never know when the wind turns and the sun points the golden rays to you! While waiting that, let`s sing and dance!“ Pekka Kainulainen

Pekka Kainulainen is a multimedial artist since 1978. He is one of the pioneers of Performance Art in Finland, through which he expresses his inner-self. Drawings and paintings reflect his vision of the world and life, as well. Pekka is also the lyricist of the band Amorphis for many years – since the album Silence Waters from 2007. As a result, in 2917. came out the book Taivaan rumpu (Heavenly Drum). It collects the original poems inspired by Kalevala (national epic of Karelia and Finland) that Pekka wrote for five Amorphis albums. His profound poetry took its place on the Amorphis upcoming album “Halo“ (February 11th, 2022. via Atomic Fire Records).

Congratulations, in advance, for the 14th album of Amorphis – “Halo“! Melodic, almost ethereal vibe, in contrasts with heavy vocals and riffs, when it comes to the sound… Could that be a description when it comes to the literal story of the album?

Thank you! Waiting for the release!

When writing the lyrics for the Halo album I felt somekind of a heavy adventure. The story is about times of ten thousands years ago when people followed deers and came to North after the Ice Age. Well, “adventure” may sound too joyful word in this case. Heavy wandering, heavy migration like “Stifled were both wail and whisper/Frozen were the living hearts”. Of course, without hope there is no reason to go on, so “I saw the sign of the red hand/Marking the mouth of a cave”.

I imagined all those feelings and vibes those ancient people had during their wandering towards their future. The literal story tells about the ability of man but it also shows our weakness. So the story is eternal. But I always want to see the history as a mirror of our minds. Although our madness has so strong role in the play of humankind, I still see it as a multicolored poem. A long search under the stars. Ethereal, yes. Let´s hope that the listener could discover something meaningful from the lyrics, and something which becomes one with the sound.

Gallery Luts in Lohja, exposed your drawings on the exhibition Seven Roads Come Together in November and December, 2021. The audience response was very good – Soothing images told fascinating stories, said one of the visitors. There were also some pencil drawings based on the lyrics from the album Halo. What was your impression of the exhibition, and, are the paintings available for the lovers of fine arts outside of the gallery?

The exhibition succeeded great. Gallery Luts is a small art gallery in Lohja, Finland. But I had pretty many drawings and some paintings there too. And I had so many interesting talks with the visitors. I still have some unfinished drawings and small paintings of the Halo theme in my studio. Some of those exhibition drawings are available in my webstore and during this spring I´ll make some more to be published in the store. The connection with Amorphis lyrics and my visual art is important to me. I´m planning a larger exhibition handling that connection in the future. Some preparations have been done but let´s see how the things develop.

You worked with Amorphis for many years, since the Silent Waters, from 2007. The audience connected with you very fast, and they accepted you as one of the band members. What was the moment looked like you knew that it was the new direction to go? What did you feel when the new “door” was open?

I´’ve been working as an artist more than forty years. From the beginning I knew that my way to be an artist is not to handle some specific medium but to melt different technics and expressions into one. Of course, when collaboration with Amorphis started it was something new for me because of the volume of the band. To be a painter or a poet is not so social, you are mainly alone with your art projects and certain loneliness is even the condition of your work. By social media the connection between fans was created soon after the Silent Waters album and nowadays I somehow feel to be a member of the band but also a member of the family of the fans. One of this tribe.

Amorphis – An Evening with Friends, 2016, photo by Jaakko Manninen

You also hit the stage on tour with Amorphis. That different kind of experience brought some special bond with the audience. What was the most beautiful moment while making this kind of artistic adventure?

My first performance with Amorphis took place in Helsinki, 2016. An Evening with Friends was the name of the concert and I was asked to make some visit on the stage. Performance art is the Art of presence. Often, in very intimate situations with a small audience. In advance, I felt pretty excited to appear on the stage, would it even be possible to get some contact in that kind of a happening? I felt like an animal. And, it was just the right feeling! It was the first time when I felt reverent connection with such a big audience. At the same time it was joyfu, but reverent too!  I will never forget that moment! Thank you people!

Book Taivaan rumpu (Heavenly Drum) collect the original poems inspired by Kalevala that you wrote for five Amorphis albums. The book also has your black and white illustration. The amazing thing is that your art brought people from around the world to discover the history of Finland and its cultural heritage. Do you think that the magic could be found in that fact? What is your point of view, when it comes to that matter?

I have been surprised about the people’s interest in the Kalevala and Finnish culture and language too. Amorphis seems to be a natural bond between our cultural heritage and modern life. And the stories in the Kalevala are not only Finnish stories but Karelian ones too, and they also are from Baltic area and from Europe´s forest people and the roots are from all around the world. That´s why you and me still recognize that old run of blood and story and song in our veins and minds. Common heritage from past carried by Amorphis to our time, to our life.

Amorphis – An Evening with Friends, 2016 – Photo by Riikka Palttala

You express your art in many ways, by writing poetry, by pencil-drawings. You also give ideas for tattoo art, as well.. But the notion is that, most of the time, you feel the need to express your feelings through Performance Art. Is Visual Art something that you feel connected to, and why?

It´’s true that I enjoy making pictures by drawing and painting. This world around us is so fulgent that I now and then need to make a humble prayer to stand this. I don´t try to understand this, I just make my red hand mark here. Performance Art is a primitive way to express your inner feelings…feelings which are out of spoken language…out of reasonable civilization… My performances are often like visual rituals including different ways of expression, picture, music, poems, dancing. First of all, through performance art I can reach the state of mind of being somewhere between animal and man, man and spirit, reality of a dream…

You said that the friend of yours, Mr. Erkki Pirtola, was the bond that kept you connected to the world of art. In 1984, you worked with him on some TV shows for the Finnish Yle TV1. How do you remember those days? Did that collaboration, in some way, lead you where you stand now – artistically? Are there any similarities between the past and present in your artistic expression?

Great that you´re asking that! Mr. Erkki Pirtola was my teacher when I as a young boy started this work of art. He guided me to see the bonds between my art and the Kalevala. And he connected me to Johannes Setälä who is a shamanistic artist, a shaman of our times. When we took part in an art happening named Suomen Aino (Aino of Finland) we created a band of three heroes. Johannes was the Väinämöinen, Erkki was the Ilmarinen and I was the Lemminkäinen. That happened in Kangasniemi, Finland, 1985. Like Lemminkäinen in the Kalevala, I had poison in my mind, a seed of destroy, Erkki guided me out from my destiny, to the light of day from the dark waters of Tuonela. “A ship of bone rose from the river/Through the fiery gates of life”…

Pekka Kainulainen, 2017, Spitsbergen, photo by Stein Henningsen

Amorphis introduced you to the world of heavy sounds. What music inspires you the most? Does your music taste define you as an artist in some way?

I want to listen all kind of music. And silence, too. Amorphis has a wide scale and spectrum of sounds and tones. Hard, black, heavy, shining… It means to me the energy of human mind and, somehow, it also paints visible the environment around us. Music of Amorphis gets me to see visions of landscapes, and some strange activity is also stirring there.

What is the main essence that makes Finnish art creatively unique?

This is too difficult to answer. I think that mainly it´s the same everywhere. Not easy to be an artist. It´s important to be yourself. Or to develop as your self. Whoever and wherever you are.

Video – “On The Dark Waters” Amorphis – from the upcoming album “Halo” Lyrics: Pekka Kainulainen; Video director: Pekka Hara

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