KRISTIINA UUSITALO A glass of light to drink in darkness
Direct experience, wonder and the landscape are among the principal thematic routes through Kristiina Uusitalo’s latest exhibition. She describes her thoughts on her new paintings as follows: “I was thinking about the world’s oceans and shores being filled with untreated objects. I would prefer to avoid awareness of the suffocating abundance of discarded materials. But it fills me, too.” The bright colours that appear in her paintings elicit a different experience from us if we associate them with plastic waste than if we were to think of them as white light being split up in a prism. Nonetheless, the vision that Uusitalo has created is visually powerful and helps viewers to understand how complex and nuanced visible worlds are.
The works in the latest exhibition relate to the landscape-painting tradition and open up views into experiences of nature. Uusitalo writes: “As I walk along those shores, I view it all quietly and fervently. The space dissolved into light holds beneath it vast quantities of colours and forms trying to emerge. The repellent, alien and loathsome have become part of us. The nakedness of my own mind lives there alongside them. All that is valuable within us requires a space. Perhaps a secret one.” Her words exemplify well the way that observations and visions contain a powerful experiential component. In Kristiina Uusitalo’s art personal experience is the basis on which she creates her works, which open up new perspectives and immediate sensations to viewers.
Uusitalo has felt that a passage in the poet Maria Matinmikko’s debut collection Valkoinen (white, 2012) has an affinity with her own artistic work. The poet writes: “Talk is hard to hear and impossible to comprehend. Everything is clear and distinct. The shapes constantly break apart and join together.” Uusitalo creates paintings that bear witness to direct experiences, in which the clear and the inexplicable are tangibly and strikingly interwoven. Kristiina Uusitalo’s art depicts personal experiences in a way that is evident and very real to all sentient beings. In her art the visible and the lived open out like landscapes, opening channels into new moments of understanding.
Kristiina Uusitalo (1959) is one of most prominent Finnish painters. Since the start of her career at the turn of the 1980s, the main themes of her production have included experiencing and depicting nature as a stage for human inner life, but also as an image of climate change. Over the years, Uusitalo has reinvented herself in her art, in both its pictorial and message content. She has, nevertheless, retained her characteristically expressive style. She received the Finnish State Art Prize in 2008. Her public works include the altar painting in Tainionkoski Church in Imatra (1997) and the mural Valon varassa (Borne by Light, 2013) in the entrance hall of Malmi Hospital. Her works are in all the main Finnish public and private collections.
The exhibition’s title is from the author Rakel Liehu’s poem collection Valo, läheisyys (light, closeness, 1977).