Ilkka Lantto

Pello (1957)

Based in Lapland, Ilkka Lanto became an artist on a whim. He bought paintbrushes and equiptment, and noticed, that a painting comes to life by spreading colour onto a canvas. When there were enough paintings finished, a permanent gallery space was decided to be established in the vacant wing of a factory. Lantto has a remarkably good chance of showcasing his work in the West Line Gallery, in the outskirts of Pello city centre, just by the highway. His brothers own a heat pump company in the large building, where the Outsider painter works as well.

The whole of Lapland with its jacks and animals are present in Lantto’s paintings. Uneducated and clumsy, Lantto has developed his style into something original, where naivety and realism fluctuate. Reindeers race across a purple icy landscape, that has been depicted as an astounding view, and a bear rushes towards the viewer with full force, in an impressionistic gloomy fall foliage forest. Lantto is also a critical painter. A clearcutting area plown to shreads has enraged him, which shows in the painting. In another painting a traveler turned werewolf herds a pack of wolves.

Lantto worships his animal figures. With his paintbrush, he splashes and slaps the beat on to the canvas, from where he then enhances the birds and the shapes of the scenery. The paintings he composes succeed in portraying a strange atmosphere, such as the charcoal black polar night, where the sky blazes in red flames. He comprehends the brutality of nature in Lapland, the changes of the grim darkness into the soft light, as well as the glow of colours.

Text: Erkki Pirtola. Translation: Ina Aaltojärvi. Photos: Arto Liiti.