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“I like glass for the colours, lights, shadows and reflections, recalling the characteristics of glass. There is always light coming through and you can get stronger and deeper colors compared to any other material. The next step is the reflections through the colors, through the glass,”
In Finland, a glass artist with a long career is most generally thought to be a designer working for a factory. This was the usual arrangement for Finnish glass artists during the golden period of modernism.
The design of Varrela’s work differs from the bright geometric Finnish designer glass that gained a reputation from the 1950s onwards. Design giants like Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala were inspired by Finland’s barren, northern nature.
“At least it was a skilfully created image. On the other hand, I see myself very much as a city dweller, an urban man loving borderlines between urban life and environment”.
Glass artist Vesa Varrela is one of the icons of our post-modern glass art.
He was not sufficiently attracted by the studio glass art of the late 20th century, so from a fairly early stage he began to travel along roads of his own.
Varrela’s wide-ranging glass works include large pieces that are part of public space architecture as well as unique glass items and sculptures. Particularly in his sculptures, he combines other materials such as wood, stone, metal or even asphalt. He also often uses sandblasting, which gives glass with engraved patterns a strong three-dimensional feelings.
Like the rest of the new Finnish designer generation, he is international. His exhibitions have been displayed abroad since the 1980s.
Varrela is also an experienced exhibition architect, designer and implementer of exhibitions of Finnish glass works and culture seen around the world. Varrela has also been working with stage design and doing pattern design among others for shoe- and textile industry.
An essential element in Varrela’s career has been his interest in solving pedagogical problems. As a teacher in the University of Art and Design, UIAH, Helsinki in 1987 – 1993, he contributed significantly to the development of teaching of abstract glass art in Finland. This phase culminated in the graduation of the first university-educated Masters of glass art.
Many of the installations then exhibited, combining glass and scrap metal, have become classics in classics in museum collections all over the world and in private collections.
Among the many facets of Vesa Varrela’s art, the role of the glass artist seems to become stronger as he grows and matures from an empiricist towards the position reserved for him in Finnish glass art.
His dynamic character has provided plenty of capability for renewal, and whatever paths his art will next take, in all likelihood they will provide an interesting experience for those watching his progress.
A resident of the city of Tampere, Finland, Varrela is internationally among our most widely known modern glass artists.
“I am always open to challenges and curiosity is part of my nature. (even though it killed the cat)“