GROUP SHOWPaintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs
The latest Galleria Heino joint exhibition will feature works by the gallery´s new artists who have not previously held a private exhibition at the gallery.
Artist Petri Ala-Maunus´s(b.1970) paintings are like windows to another world, in which the forces of nature have been unleashed. There is no peace on earth here. Storms, earthquakes and floods wrack the land. The rivers are furious torrents, the seas rage. The wind howls and tears at the trees. Bolts of thunder lash out again and again. Each painting is thoroughly over the top. Their power and vitality draw the viewer in.
Ala-Maunus is particularly drawn to kitsch. His aesthetic influences include "popular" or "bad" art, the Watchtower and Awake! magazines published by Jehovah´s Witnesses, as well as the evocatively illustrated children´s Bible Story series by Arthur S. Maxwell. His artistic forebears are the mid-19th century artists of the Hudson River School movement, famous for their depictions of untouched American landscapes, whose aesthetic expression was heavily informed by romanticism. A particular influence is Albert Bierstadt, who specialised in mountain views. For the artists of the Hudson River School, nature was an embodiment of God.
Kitsch has always been a popular phenomenon. Ala-Maunus knows how to use it to his advantage but does so with impeccable taste. He cranks up the tension in his paintings to an extreme, going out of his way to achieve the tautest possible atmosphere and then continues to push beyond that too. His work is not a race against time; the paintings are highly labour intensive. At the end, all elements within the wide open landscapes blend together into a tangled web. The sea suddenly begins to look like the mountains and the mountains like the sea. The landscape overflows. The paintings lose their figurativeness.
Erno Enkenberg (b.1975) works by first constructing a scale model of the subject of his painting, then photographing it and finally rendering it onto canvas. Enkenberg´s paintings explore social themes, addressing topics such as terrorism, school shootings, natural disasters, urban warfare, human smuggling and prevailing economic and power structures. His working process consists of several phases, in the course of which his subject is distilled into what could perhaps be best described as a kind of distanced archetype. At the same time, events unfolding in our own time are amalgamated into the history of art and the wider cycle of historical events.
In the Herrhausen series, Enkenberg depicts the 1989 assassination of Alfred Herrhausen, a German banker. Herrhausen was the Chairman of Deutsche Bank and known for his outspoken views on the market economy and the developing world. A bomb was used to target the car Herrhausen was travelling in. To date, no one has been convicted of his murder.
Artist Lauri Laine (b.1946) has enjoyed a long career working both in Finland and in Rome, Italy. His works have always been characterised by a heightened awareness of art history. For a long period, his paintings took their cue from the architectural spaces of Italian early Renaissance art. In the last decade, he has turned his attention to 17th century Spanish and Italian Baroque art. This shift has coincided with the introduction of figures into his paintings.
The Figure and mandolin series features highly-stylised and simply-drawn figures that consist of a draped dress, head covering, cloak, collar and wings. The figures are holding oval mandolin-like shapes with visible strings. Making use of the space in the background as well as the light directed at it, Laine is able to create the precise atmosphere he is after. The overlapping rhythm of the elements also hints at cubism. Laine´s harmonious and spiritual paintings are a fresh new interpretation of the classic figure and mandolin motif.
Sculptor Antti Oikarinen (b.1974) is a highly skilled craftsman. In Two sculptures, he has placed two sheets of "chipboard" leaning against opposing walls. However, it turns out that all is not as it seems. His work begs the fundamental question of "What is this?" and "What is this made of?" Viewers are in for a surprise when they realise the trompe l´œil tricks played on them by Oikarinen.
Oikarinen´s art is an exploration of the possibilities and potential of art: what is art and how is it perceived? He sets out to create extreme experiences for the viewers in order to coax their thoughts along the path he wants them to follow. The works are at once a conceptual exploration of the very nature of art and the conventions of viewing art, and representations of the world of abstraction.
In Two sculptures, Oikarinen traverses the ground between painting and sculpture, investigating what happens when a sculpture purports to be a painting and vice versa. The ambiguity of whether the "chipboard" sheets are paintings or sculptures is further underlined by the fact that they are no longer hung on the wall. Instead, they are subject to the pull of gravity but are not yet free standing sculptures either. For Oikarinen, however, they are Two sculptures.
Artist Stiina Saaristo (b. 1976) uses colour and plain graphite pencils to create highly work-intensive large-scale drawings finished in painstaking detail. Saaristo often uses herself as a model for her grotesque and caricatured drawings. She depicts the female experience, the fears, insecurities and sense of insufficiency, set amidst the contrasting forces of private desires on the one hand and society´s demands on the other. Her works explore prevailing notions of beauty, gender roles and stereotypes, sexuality, equality as well as power. Her art is imbued with a distinctive sense of humorous empathy.
Photographer Hans Von Schantz (b.1961) trains his lens on graffiti that has been covered up. It is an arresting experience to come across writing or drawings in the urban setting as both are private and anonymous forms of expression and social commentary that appear in the shared public realm without permission. Graffiti is now considered a bona fide art form and has gained admittance to art galleries and museums. Any graffiti found in the urban setting, however, is usually removed. The process of covering up graffiti creates latex blotches, which Von Schantz photographs and then places on display.
Von Schantz´s work explores how meaning is determined according to the context in which signs are interpreted. His images of covered up graffiti prompt the viewer to consider the nature of visual information, whilst the latex splatters additionally serve as purely associative painterly surfaces.
In this exhibition, von Schantz juxtaposes the covered up graffiti with an image of an empty warehouse, where triangular shapes resembling the anarchist symbol have been cut into its sheet metal walls. The provocative message of the image engages in an interplay with the anarchist nature of graffiti - as well as the act of their removal.