Jaakko Pernu's "Shortcut" work of environment art that stands in the courtyard of the Maison Communale (“Town Hall”) in Jette is the first work to have been completed as part of the Nature and Sculpture project of the art centre Atelier 340 Muzeum. President of the centre Wlodzimierz Majevski has invited a number of artists to create environment art for public and private gardens within a one-kilometre radius of the Maison Communale in Jette.
Jaakko Pernu graduated with a major in sculpture from the Lahti Institute of Fine Arts and worked for four years as an assistant to sculptor Olavi Lanu: "Even though the main material that Lanu uses is fibreglass, he is nonetheless one of Finland's leading environment artists – and has been since the 1960s. Working with him doubtless gave me the passion and confidence to produce large-scale works," says Pernu. Indeed, Pernu's works are often several metres in height. He has positioned his Shortcut work in the courtyard at the Maison Communale in Jette so that it can best be appreciated when observed from the adjacent street.
Pernu uses willow as his material having encountered it for the first time while studying in Rotterdam: "The Academy organised a week-long workshop at which the only freely available material was a lorry-load of tree trunks," Pernu explains. Pernu points out that the process by which he works is a direct extension of the Finnish craze for handicrafts, in which natural materials have played a key part". Finnish willow has been used to make Shortcut, and it took Pernu two weeks to gather and prepare the willow and two weeks to assemble the work in Jette.
Pernu has stated that his works can be exhibited in museums and galleries, but they can also be placed within the grasp of the ordinary man on the street, whereupon the onus is on the viewer to understand: "When it comes to assessing and pigeonholing art we sometimes head off in the wrong direction, and when that happens it is liberating to work outdoors and on the outside," Peru says. A passerby in Finland recently gave me the following feedback: "I don't know what that is, but it is damn good."
Pernu's "Timberline" work can still be seen in the courtyard of Atelier 340, where it has stood since 2006. Pernu describes how the work came about as follows: "It would seem that my work repeats two basic forms: one is the cube or parallelogram, as in Shortcut, and the other is a sphere or ring, as in Timberline. Timberline portrays the tree line which is like a ring around the Calotte region and no trees grow to its north," he adds.
Shortcut can be viewed in the courtyard of the Maison Communale in Jette at Chaussée de Wemmel/Wemmelsesteenweg 100.