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Kaj Stenvall first came to the attention of the Finnish art world about ten years ago when he began to paint a very familiar-looking duck in a variety of settings. Stenvall asserts that this character was developed by himself, even while acknowledging its similarity to the most famous duck in the world.
The scenes in his pictures are from the world at large and his duck often appears in absurd – if recognizably generic – settings. There really is nothing in his paintings that one can put their finger on to connect them to any particular corner of the world, especially not to Finland, except perhaps a specific intensity of angst and foreboding.
Kaj Stenvall is eager to open a dialogue with the large and diverse audiences who are aware of his pictures. The feelings that his paintings bring out in people routinely range from hilarity to anguish. Stenvall is fascinated by the transitional line between the comical and the tragic, and his art’s inherent humor – both absurd and tragic – is quite clearly an essential feature of his approach.
Stenvall claims to not really suffer from the usual “anguish of creation” experienced by so many artists. He doesn’t wait for some kind of inspiration to arrive, but simply gets down to work after he comes up with an idea of what to create - and then enjoys the process of painting. Perhaps related to this, Stenvall insists that his images do not have any connection with his own life, stating that:
The duck is more of a symbol; the material of an intermediary; and a symbol of Man. The character illustrates the dilemma of being human. The duck, as such, doesn’t symbolize anything to me personally. It is used as a catalyst in the process of how it will be interpreted in the eye of the beholder.