Artist interview: Antti Männynväli

Antti Männynväli is an active urban artist whose roots are in the streets, but as a grown-up, he has mainly focused on indoor art. Männynväli has exhibited in galleries, bars, and restaurants. He has started making art at a very young age.

– I have started making art since about age 14, in different forms, but consistently and with various techniques. I haven’t gotten any formal education.

Stylewise Männynväli is very versatile and pursues to evolve constantly.

– Basically, I have many styles. I like to do simple and very graphic style, but then again I also like to do a “realistic with a twist” type of style. Both of these styles have evolved through time and hopefully they will continue to do so in time. You can never be completed as an artist.

Männynväli says that he gets inspired by many things that interest him, and raises one inspiration in particular: T-Bone Slim. Männynväli has a series dedicated to T-Bone Slims writings, and his mural at Keran Hallit is part of the series. T-Bone Slim was an American-Finnish vagabond, poet, songwriter, and a labor activist, who in the beginning of 20th century wrote in the local papers dedicated to the labor matters, Männynväli tells.

– If I find something that interests me in general, I attempt to show it in my art. T-Bone Slim’s texts are very wild and colourful and they all have a message, but they are also humoristically hilarious.

Männynväli’s painting process is usually thought through and sketched beforehand, but sometimes he strays from this way of working according to his mood and just works spontaniously, without planning. His work at Keran Hallit on the other hand did require the planning process.

– I often plan my works on a paper pretty comprehensively. Something graphic can be done with just a feeling, though. Then I don’t need a particular idea, I just have to let the flow take wherever. My artwork in Keran Hallit is the kind of style that I planned in detail before painting. I sketched it on paper in a way that the text which inspired me is recognizable. The layout I simply made to be pleasing to my eye and then, with some kind of artistic freedom, I executed the work on the wall.

The inspiration to the artwork at Keran Hallit for Männynväli was T-Bone Slim’s text with the headline “Get a Better Boat Boys” and this quote from it: “The economic power is the only power the workers have – only workers have it. Parasites are using borrowed power – our power, our lawnmower. Let’s make them return it. The world needs a haircut.” The metaphor about the world needing a haircut was specifically inspiring for of the artist.

Working on the mural went pleasantly, and the large size of it was exciting for Männynväli.

– I have made a few artworks with the same scale, but this is probably the biggest considering the height. For sure, the scales intrigue me. It is great to make large artwork! The possibility of rain was frightful, and I had to have some breaks because of it. Otherwise, here at Keran Hallit everything was organized very well so that as an artist, it was easy to arrive at the site and focus on the most important thing, art.

According to Männynväli, the experience was pleasant, and he wishes to meet visitors of Keran Hallit some day.

– It was a great experience! I’d like to paint more here. Meeting the other artists was nice, and hopefully, meeting the visitors will be possible at some point.


Picture: Katariina Kolkki
Picture: Katariina Kolkki