Tapper, one of Finland’s most important Modernist sculptors, grew up in an artistic family: two of his brothers, Marko and Harri, became well-known authors. Kain worked as a builder and forest worker before studying sculpture at the School of Art and Design in Helsinki between 1952-4 and then at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 1955. For some years, he also worked as an assistant with Aimo Tukiainen
After his first private exhibition in 1958, Tapper developed an art career creating abstract remote works in outdoor settings that evoke things contemplated from a distance. The poetic minimalism of his work often evoked generational controversy during the 1960s about the nature of art that became central to the development of Finnish art. Condemnations of modernism by more traditional artists became an important factor in the careers of artists of Tapper’s generation.
Even when small, his pieces loom like menhirs, their massiveness imposing an inhuman scale. His work is characterized by geological and archaeological metaphors, often expressed as standing reliefs in stone and wood ornamented by chisel marks, employing both visual and tactile stimuli. Tapper combined nature and natural phenomena, folklore and modernism, epitomising the Informalist style in Finnish sculpture. His works draw heavily from the organic natural forms of nature, especially the lake and river landscapes of his native Saarijärvi, and often include animal motifs.
Some of his most well-known works are: Module in Helsinki, Urstenar at the University of Joensuu, Vuorten Synty in Rovaniemi, and Tidens strom in Turku.
Tapper represented Finland at several significant international exhibitions of Finnish art. He was awarded the 1976 Pro Finlandia Medal, 1981 Artist of the Year, 1985 State Art Award and was a Member of the Royal Academy of Sweden.
Contributed by Chrystopher J Spicer