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.
Jani Leinonen is taking part in the exhibition Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations at ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus, Denmark, opening on April 4th, 2020.
The exhibition attempts to expose the narratives that, through various historical epochs, have sustained society and had a governing influence on communities as well as on war and destruction.
With this exhibition, ARoS seeks to persuade the audience to respond to the mythologies that define and create the framework of the society which we are all part of and contribute to. The fact that myths and narratives are the fabric that still manages to unite us all is one of the principal assertions of the exhibition. By highlighting a number of specific historical points of interest, Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations will uncover periods where old narratives are discarded and new ones emerge, often via radical ruptures.
The exhibition runs through 4. Apr. 2020 — 18. Oct. 2020
Jani Leinonen’s solo exhibition The Truth will open at Serlachius Museum Gösta in September 2020 with a magical installation implemented using centuries-old stained-glass techniques, giving its visitors a plunge into the long history of propaganda and manipulation – and the colorful present.
True to his style and in the spirit of pop art Leinonen uses trademarks, product packaging or popular imagery and modifies the message by taking a stand on social injustices and the responsibility of supranational companies for their actions. The exhibition is curated by Sampo Linkoneva.
The show will be on display from 19 September 2020–7 March 2021.
Lars Göran Johnsson has collected art for nearly 70 years. His journey of exploration that began with a yearning for beauty has resulted in the creation of one of the foremost private art collections in Finland. The multi-faceted collection reflects its creator’s mobile lifestyle and interest in current affairs. Johnsson donated the collection to Turku Art Museum in 2016, and it has continued to grow since then. Filling the galleries on both floors of the art museum, the exhibition opens up vistas onto international modernism and contemporary art.
The collection includes works by Jiri Geller, Mari Keto and Riikka Hyvönen amongst others.
Zetterberg Gallery is pleased to present Joonas Kota’s third solo show at the gallery with the exhibition Anomalies. With painting as his main medium, Joonas Kota (b. 1976) is distinguished for his meticulous work and attention to detail. Kota’s works, all borderline between abstract and figurative, often creates parallel realities and drifts between the fragility of the momentary and timelessness. Kota graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2003 and is represented in both private and public collections, including KiasmaMuseum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki Art Museum – HAM and E.W. Ponkala Foundation’s collection. The artist lives and works in Helsinki.
Always a Storm Away // Joonas Kota Text by Aura Seikkula
As a focal, metaphysical idea of human knowledge, transcendence implies a new, third meaning. The actual possibility of knowing, and retroactively knowing if one knew. Jean-Paul Sartre’s positioning gains meaning in an object-oriented world. In Being and Nothingness (1943/1956) Sartre states “Consciousness is a being such that in its being, its being is in question insofar as this being implies a being other than itself.” This itself, the consideration of its being, has brought meaning to Joonas Kota’s artistic practice.
Kota’s oeuvre revolves around three elements: the symbolic reality, the reality in itself and the transcendental. Here, as for Sartre, the transcendental third element is the actual meaning creating agency. In his earlier works, Kota proposed how an abstracted forest turns into a virtual scape, how a diamond reflects fractions of the world around us and how an Emoji icon has gained symbolic meaning even outside its original context. Interestingly, with these elements, Kota pays tribute to the meaning of motifs in painting, by carefully elaborating on each for each series.
Kota’s Transcendent Diamonds series is such a three-tier consideration of the invaluable jewel. In his latest exhibition series, Kota continues to develop his fascination for this symmetric structure and in its seemingly metaphoric meaning, he defines the actual objective phenomena of the natural world. Fascination with this ultimate natural item is intelligible. A diamond is immune to any impurity due to the arrangement of atoms that are extremely rigid. It is also a semiconductor that displays the highest known thermal conductivity and electron saturation velocity of all earthly materials. Regardless of these facts, the question keeps being directed to human time. Can something be eternal in the world we have created temporal? Kota’s answer is transcendental.
The continuum of our efforts is fragmented. The continuum of our efforts gain an entity only when considered retroactively. So, it is in this process Kota partakes in the continuum of landscape painting by bringing forth one of the most beloved motifs, the storm. Once hated by its contemporaries the Turnerian stormy sea is a meaningful reference, maybe even more so in the era of the climate crisis. For Turner, the sea always set the stage for a tragedy. It was threatening, depicting Nature’s venom in the loss of man’s nullity.
Keeping in mind with Turnerian understanding, each of Kota’s diamonds entails a storm. The meticulously shaped structures have an enchanting draw. The framed, round shape becomes a telescope for terrestrial observation. Here again, Kota’s transcendental consideration gains depth as he acknowledges the overwhelming objectivity of nature. By layering natural phenomenon with scenery and simultaneously arranging our vision with formed regularities of a cubic crystal system, the diamond, Kota proposes a stance for all life forms.
Aurora Reinhard is included in the exhibition Inspiration – Iconic works presenting contemporary art side by side with classical works at Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. The exhibition is on display from February 20 to May 17, 2020, after which it will continue to Ateneum in Helsinki through June 18 to September 20, 2020.
How have international contemporary artists been inspired by the classics of European art? And why is it these works, in particular, that have become known around the world? Inspiration presents art that draws inspiration from iconic masterpieces, created by today’s most interesting contemporary artists. In the exhibition, the original works are referenced, for example, through replicas, prints, plaster casts, and abundant archive materials.
The chief curators for both exhibitions are the director-general of Nationalmuseum in Sweden, Susanna Pettersson, and the London art historian James Putnam. Co-curators for the Ateneum exhibition will be the museum director Marja Sakari and the chief curator Sointu Fritze.
For Susan Sontag art has the capacity to make us anxious and uncomfortable, as such. For Sontag, art is inviting us to engage in a private, sensual experience through an interpretative dialogue. Art asks for our intellect to interpret, to prove our potential to think and to create meaning. However, we should find a balance in this task. A balance with content and concept without overdoing it. This act of interpreting art is an intellectual task, that is loaded with consciousness and appreciation, simultaneously accepting the volume of the artistic process and its results. As Sontag notes, art aims to seduce us with this engagement, not to rape our consciousness.
Riikka Hyvönen is on an exploration of beauty with her expressive and thought-provoking acts of the construction of contemporary identity and the nature of its various representations. Hyvönen has built the foundation of her practice on the forms of objectification through which the female body is dismantled and constructed online and in print.
Questions of representation and objectification gain duality in her work. Hyvönen considers self-identity as a constructed mass deception that we have agreed upon. Her witty, playful and controversial work is both founded in the present while she extends commercial values in visuality to reconsider common female stereotypes and cultural assumptions on beauty. Her famous Roller Derby Kisses sculptural painting series portrayed the achievements through the intimacy of female skin and there captured the massive, momentary marks that gain new importance only inside a small group of enthusiasts. Proceeding from this consideration of personalized beauty, she looks at the objectifying process of editorial shoots. In her recent photo installations series, her content and concept were built from the fashion magazines editorial photoshopping. Here the models’ faults, the photoshopped ones, are highlighted on plexiglass duplicating the original photo of the model. Hanging large-scale and heavy the pieces scrutinize our conception on digitally constructed beauty.
Having her interests stemming from pop culture and aesthetics, Hyvönen’s insightful criticism reaches beyond prevailing questions of body image and feminism. She attests the ways in which popular gestures end up as mechanisms of cultural consolidation. And as requested by Sontag, she lets us find these meanings by engaging with her proposal.
Hyvönen continues merging sculptural elements in her painting process. This time by turning her painterly gaze to the natural world. With the exhibited series she captures the momentary joy of light erupting on a surface, touching it with a prism. She finds her references from social media to employ a selection of experiences. For Hyvönen, light’s metaphors are a multitude. Whereas the spectrum can form upon a heavily bruised skin, as in Roller Derby Kisses, Hyvönen is aware of the weight of its connotations. Can you paint a rainbow without touching upon – any of – its denotations? Regardless, one is clear. Light can break though anything. Even the darkest of the hour.
Susan Sontag Against Interpretation, 1966 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Riikka Hyvönen (b. 1982 Rovaniemi, Finland) lives and works in London. Hyvönen holds a BA of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London and is currently finishing her master’s studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki.