Jani Leinonen’s long-awaited solo exhibition The Truth will open at Serlachius Museum Gösta on 27 March 2021. For the show, the artist has created a magical installation implemented using centuries-old stained-glass techniques, offering its visitor a plunge into the long history of propaganda and manipulation – and the colorful present.
The exhibition will also reunite Leinonen and world-famous street artist Banksy after six years, as Banksy’s show A Visual Protest opens at the museum in mid-May 2021 and will be overlapping with Leinonen’s exhibition for three months. In 2015, Banksy invited Leinonen to exhibit at his Dismaland Bemusement Park -show in Weston-super-Mare, UK.
“It’s a showcase for the best artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down.” – Banksy
Aurora Reinhard takes over the Studio space at Turku Art Museum in the Fall of 2021 to construct a delicate and beautiful installation based on Louis Vuitton’s iconic Neverfull handbag. The work questions the illusion of perfection, revealing it to be a fragile shell.
Turku Art Museum 19 November 2021 – 9 January 2022
Jean-François Lyotard’s question of anything happening has become ever more pertinent. The question of why is unavoidable. Yet we have failed to answer it, far too long. We must argue not only for ourselves but for the world.
In the exhibition Fragility, a multitude of textures and surfaces explore the ground of uncertainty and the future we have destroyed for ourselves. Almost like a pathway through turbulence the works lead the viewer towards a growing discomfort. This discomfort is by no means an aesthetic one but loaded with awareness. Like a surge of texture, the exhibition portrays Fragility more as a question rather than an answer of its forms. Aaron Heino, Mari Keto and Jani Leinonen all negotiate something that may answer “Why does something happen, rather than nothing?” but remains for the viewer to decide.
As a sculptor, Aaron Heino positions himself observing everyday subject matters and their mundane details, while drawing meaning from organic shapes and natural phenomena. Heino’s A Natural feature (2018, Black granite) is a toxic deal. Yet again, Heino utilizes process-oriented treatments of his material, which gain an organic form. The classic material of black granite is strikingly delicate in depicting a slice of a citrus and its draining flesh. As if awaiting to be noticed its deceasing components, the citrus looks delicious in its sparkling detail. Heino’s sculpting is seemingly meticulous and impressive in its thoroughness. Combining something so weighty with something so delicate and juicy, grounds for impossibility but Heino succeeds in depicting the essence of the fruit, to the finest particle.
Working through symbols, iconographies and marketing strategies, Jani Leinonen invites us inside a deceptively ordinary material, wood turned – or should I say burned – into charcoal. Leinonen’s Sorry (2020, Burned wood) stares back at the viewer, remarkably black. The organic surface of the work is enchanting. It is still alive. The burned entity preserves in detail the features of the wood it once was, even highlighting them.Inside the artwork, the material exists simultaneously through its art historical references; both as a sculptural material and a drawing implement, scripting out a statement. By framing the charcoal, Leinonen proposes to view it like its molecular relatives, diamonds.
Leinonen’s connotations are manifold. While urging us to consider the global marketing tactics, he is suggesting something more acute. The practice of coal burning has, ever since the 18th century, had a significant role in the deforestation of central European landscapes. Accordingly, the escalating environmental crisis has its origins in the warming of the atmosphere, caused by ever increasing carbon emissions. Like so many of our everyday materials, charcoal has come to connotate crisis over progress.
While one cannot ignore the environmental references, Leinonen’s other works in the exhibition, Fragility (2020, handmade glass and plaster sculptured on wood) and Magic Carpet (2020 printed carpet), navigate his thinking into other prevailing directions. As repeatedly experienced, the time of a crisis has throughout the history prompted systematic destruction of relevant cultural artefacts, art, literature and anything significant depicting humanity. An ideological crime has provoked removal of statues portraying a position of prominence. Leinonen seems to participate in this political bewilderment by creating a mosaic of a president. A statesman in pieces among the pieces of their alikes. Written on a Magic Carpet, Leinonen asks us whether “You want the Truth or something Beautiful?” As if a truth was a possibility in the fragile, fragmented world of multiple truths. While negotiating the truth is historically philosophical, Leinonen positions it within the political. Again, asking of the not happening, Leinonen reminds us that our truths are individual.
Mari Keto builds her pop art aesthetics immaculately with jewelry material. Her works are composed of diamonds, crystals, pearls and stones. Keto’s Smile now Cry later (2020, Acrylic stones, mdf, silk) is a portrait of the decay. Something that even in its eyeful increases the discomfort brought forth at the exhibition’s entry space. We are about to fall from the edge of capitalism. The hypocrisy and absurdities of capitalism suggested by Leinonen, gets a crying crown jewel at Keto’s service. Yet again, interestingly, the skull connotations are manifold. As a motif, it spans cultures and histories. Whereas pre-Colombian American artists encrusted skulls with precious stones, Keto seems to impeach decadence, with her natural sense of irony, of course.
Understanding, or accepting even more so, the fragility of the human condition is inevitable. The poetics of future losses embodied by the works, and the fragility they suggest, is profound.
Quote: Jean-François Lyotard. Flash Art, #121, March 1985
Jani Leinonen’s McJesus is included in the exhibition Línies Vermelles – Censorship in the Tatxo Benet Collection at La Panera Art Center in Lleida, Catalonia.
The exhibition brings together a selection of pieces from the Tatxo Benet Censored collection that all have, at some point, been banned for political, religious, or moral reasons. The show aims not only to influence the visualization of the atrocities that, for various reasons, have been hidden in different parts of the world, yet to visualize, as a challenge, the censorship itself as an atrocity. More than a ghost from the old totalitarian regimes or the remote Holy Inquisition, the complexity that censorship presents in contemporary societies makes it necessary to refine our understanding of its multitude of faces.
A good part of the works that can be seen in La Panera has been censored for religious reasons, including Jani Leinonen’s McJesus, which was removed from the Haifa Museum in Israel last year as a result of violent protests by the Christian community.
The exhibition is on display from September 26, 2020 -January 10, 2021.
Aurora Reinhard’s body of work “Broken”, consisting of nine artworks, has been acquired by the Niemistö Foundation. The artworks were originally displayed as a whole at Amos Rex in Helsinki, as part of the Ars Fennica 2019 prize exhibition, where Reinhard was one of the five nominees. The new permanent home for the artworks will be at the Hämeenlinna Art museum.
The Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation was established in 1990 to promote the arts by opening up new channels for Finnish visual art internationally. Today, the Foundation awards Finland’s most significant visual-art prize (the Ars Fennica prize) to an artist in recognition of individual artistic work of outstanding quality.
An award committee appointed by the Foundation nominates the candidates and the winner is chosen by an international art expert. The candidate artists have variously been from Finland, the Nordic countries, the Baltic States and the St Petersburg region.
Zetterberg Gallery is proud to present Jani Leinonen’s long-awaited stained glass works for the first time in Finland. With the exhibition Lies, Lies, Lies, Leinonen transforms the gallery into a shrine of light, color, and reflection.
Nothing but the Untruth // Jani Leinonen
Stepping inside Lies is a mystical experience. With dim lighting, dancing rays of light and reflections, it has the look and feel of a place of worship. Stained glass, a tradition firmly rooted in Christianity in the European context, is the dominant feature. Christian churches are not exactly reputed for their honesty, but Leinonen’s focus is not on the lies of the Church as such. According to the artist, European culture is rooted in Christianity, and that culture has a long history of deceit. Our post-truth era problems are firmly grounded on this history. Inside this little sanctuary, the artist is preaching us to think critically. Perhaps an oxymoron, perhaps on purpose.
On a closer look, the works combine ancient religious iconography with the styles and shapes of contemporary advertising. The artist harnesses the millennia-old methods of stained glass and mosaic for the purposes of today. It is no wonder the impression is holy, for the delicate craftsmanship of these works has been produced inside the walls of Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc. A rare surviving institution of European craftmanship that also produces stained glass work for the Vatican.
The title piece of the exhibition, a herd of corporate and institutional logos where names have been replaced with lies adorn what appears to be a large stained-glass window with colourful medieval ornaments. A question formed of more logos floats on top of it all: How Many Different Ways the Same Lies Can Be Told?
True to his affection for the popular, Leinonen has borrowed this sentence from a source no more noble than the first of Donna Leon’s highly successful crime novels set in Venice, Death at La Fenice (1992). In it, commisario Guido Brunetti enquires about his wife Paola’s habit of reading a different newspaper each morning without any loyalties to a set political leaning or even a language. It is part of Paola’s answer that we see reflected on glass here: “I want to see how many different ways the same lies can be told”.
Leinonen takes this question seriously. “Despite utopian forecasts about the democratization of information and power, not much has changed for the better. Governments, political parties and corporations in power still control information and disinformation. Politics, media and other institutions of power are all complicit in the crisis of democracy we are currently facing.”
As if to keep up with the times of information overflow, the works are an overflow of colour, light and mixed messages. Yet, a type of unexpected harmony emerges out of all this. Lies is an eclectic space for reflection.