STIINA SAARISTOKinderszenen 16.4.2021 – 16.5.2021
I’ve always built my themes on narratives. There is an idea, a touching injustice or emotion, a visually mesmerising object or impression that is the starting point for my story’s form and eventually incorporated into a finished work. I work on my pieces for a relatively long time, usually months. My narrative and story evolve and take shape as the work progresses. Kinderszenen is a collection of ceramic sculptures and drawings related to childhood, childhood fairy tales and stories, and the difficult nature of being human. The title refers to Robert Schumann’s set of pieces for piano of the same name, which look at childhood from the nostalgic perspective of an adult.
I studied painting, but drawing gradually replaced the paints. I continued drawing for quite a while until my attempts at three-dimensional shapes eventually led me to experiment with ceramics and sculpture.
I started working with ceramics in autumn 2019, and since then I’ve been using porcelain paper clay in my works, which I paint with glazing.
I’m interested in things that are grotesque and kitschy – and especially the combination of the two. Ceramics has a porcelain figurine-filled past and is therefore the perfect medium to achieve that. It’s interesting how the distorted proportions associated with my drawings and paintings, as well as the actual technique, resemble my sculpting method, despite the materials being different.
I hand sculpt my clay works as if I were drawing. I make approximate figures; cut out their limbs and details; reshape, engrave and hollow them and then reattach them to create an entity. When I draw I use a mirror, and I do the same when I work with clay, but the biggest difference between the two techniques is that my sculptures are mainly based on visions and I’m no longer limited to referencing a real model. I avoid using photographs in my drawing, which is why it’s a very time-consuming process for me; when I sculpt my visions, my method allows for mistakes and brings joy and pure creativity to my art-making.
Life is a series of interesting, cruel yet lovable tragicomic events, coincidences and beliefs that unite us all. We’ve all had childhoods, only their colours vary.
Stiina Saaristo (b. 1976) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2005. She is one of the most original visual artists of her generation. Saaristo paints and makes charcoal and pencil drawings and has also started making sculptures from porcelain paper clay. She makes her works alone at her studio. Creating a sculpture involves several phases, first shaping it without moulds, followed by several rounds of firing with surface stains and glazing. Saaristo’s drawings and sculptures manifest the meticulous method that is so characteristic of her. One might say that her sculptures are a continuation of her drawings. She has used herself as a caricature model in works of both types and addressed themes related to womanhood.