by Shirle Gottlieb

(Patricia Correia Gallery, Santa Monica) Like Sibelius, Saarinin, and Aalto before him, artist/designer/sculptor, Stefan Lindfors has leapy over the boundaries of his native Finland to capture critical acclaim and international attention wherever he goes.

Uncompromising and willing to take enormous personal risks, Lindfors combines his singular view of the world (a quintessential Finnish stance that respects the ever-present, omnipotent force of nature, man's insignificance within it, and the coexistence of illusion and reality) with the latest state-of-the-art materials and industrial techniques.

From this paradoxical position, the free-thinking Lindfors creates monumental sculptural environments that resonate with allusions to the ephemeral quality of life. As viewers stand surrounded by giant larvae, ants, and insects in various stages of metamorphosis, they intuit that life and death, beauty and death, and the fear of death, are allied human emotions. But that's only the beginning.

Impressed by the superb craftsmanship of Lindfors' 20th-century sculpture, while being simultaneously stirred by the prehistoric messages they convey, you might find yourself caught in a subliminal web of suspense, transcendence, timelessness and the unknown.

Lindfors writes that he views time and the world as an ongoing, organic process--that his depiction of this process is told in metaphoric visual imagery. Choosing his sculptural materials with great care, he constructs a combative environment where viewers are forced to interact with giant insects in a perpetual war zone. The insects seem to be winning.

"Ephemeron III-XV", painted grasshoppers/mixed media, 1997


"Ephemeron III-XV" (detail), painted grasshoppers/mixed media, 1997.


"Demos," steel/fiberglass/overhead projectors, 15 x 12 x 32", 1995.


"Ethos," steel/fiberglass/flourscent lamps, 78 x 23 x 12", 1995.

Any metaphysical questions that arise (as they do), from the dialogue that results between the sculptor's work and the viewer have been imparted on some deep, non-discursive level. As we gaze in silence at the beautiful but foreboding webs, mysterious luminescent pods, frightening cocoons, and thorny housing of our planet's co-inhabitants, we automatically think of death and disease--of our constant struggle against pestilence, viruses, and all the incurable ills that our globe is plagued with. This forces us to reconsider our place in the universal scheme of things.

Giving his sculptures Greek names, Lindfors further enables political, social, and anthropomorphic attributes to be ascribed to his insect environments. In Ethos (character), for example, we see a shimmering, foreboding, 6-foot cocoon (steel, fiberglass, resin, and lights) that is swaying in space. Like it or not, each of us is trapped in one kind of cocoon or another.

Ontarkeia (the authority of being), is an awesome, 24-foot translucent shelter that Lindfors adheres to the ceiling of the gallery. Demos (the people), is presented as a triangular pod of swarming carpenter bees that are beamed from an overhead projector. In addition, the entire gallery is curtained with mosquito netting--another theatrical device that transforms Lindfors' anthropomorphic ideas into "art."

With total conviction, this Finnish dynamo insists that paradox, contradiction, wit, and imagination must be integral parts of significant art. He also believes that atmosphere and mental space are crucial ingredients if art is to communicate. When you see Marathon II, a projection of large red ants crawling from floor to ceiling over an entire gallery wall, you definitely receive his message.