Throughout the ages the elements have been used as a concept for understanding reality. Ancient Greek philosophers saw the world as constituted of fire, water, earth and air. Today the structure of the universe is studied by physicists and cosmologists – and also by artists. This exhibition explores our relationship with the world and the forces of nature through works of art from the Kiasma Collections.
The motifs in the works range from origins to destruction, change to permanence, lightness to weight. Some of the works are reminiscent of the mixed sense of awe and dread inspired by nature in the romantic period, or the fundamental uncertainty of things. On the other hand, our relationship with nature is also characterised by science and research and concern about the state of the environment.
The word ‘element’ can also refer to the component parts of an entity. One aspect of the exhibition is the choice of materials in contemporary art and the experiences they engender. The works on show speak to the viewer through their materials, which range from gold leaf through glass, stone and wool to fire and light.