Erwin Laiho, Jani Leinonen, Riikka Hyvönen, Joonas Kota & Mari Keto
June 14–August 13, 2023
Erwin Laiho, Jani Leinonen, Riikka Hyvönen, Joonas Kota & Mari Keto
New works by Erwin Laiho, Jani Leinonen and Joonas Kota.
On show at Zetterberg Gallery from May 12-June 4, 2023
THE MEANING OF A BULLET HOLE IN AN ARTWORK?
A bullet shot with a gun through an object is a mischievous target for interpretations. The act of shooting is so real, so violent, and so destructive in itself, that during these dark days, it is hard to see itas a symbol of anything else than the harsh reality we are witnessing. As we speak, bullets are piercing living bodies, destroying things and causing life-lasting traumas to people who remain alive in conflict zones near and far. The closer the bullet holes come to our home the more they shake our feeling of security.
Jani Leinonen’s new exhibition LOVE brings bullet holes really close, to the clean white space of Zetterberg Gallery in the center of Helsinki. All the artworks are pierced with real bullets – leaving a cracking hole in the glass and the art underneath. In the exhibition, the bullets have broken hearts and Coco Chanel No 5 perfume packages, and they have made cracks on otherwise soft birch wood panels. The bullet holes are the remnants of a deadly duel between two of the world’s most famous commercial mascots, and two recurring characters in Leinonen’s artistic oeuvre; fast food mascot Ronald McDonald and Kellogg’s Tony Tiger.
In Leinonen’s works the act of shooting is violence in itself but simultaneously a symbol of violence. According to philosopher Slavoj Žižek there are at least three forms of violence: subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems). Often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions. These are the three levels of violence that Leinonen’s artworks play with.
Do we often interpret objects that look visually impressive as superficial?
How much can we miss out on if, despite being aware of this possibility, we are not always able to look and explore things more closely – while maintaining the curiosity and open-mindedness typical to the human species?
Why has the disposable cardboard coffee mug, that millions of people carry with them every day turned into a forever-lasting black granite sculpture ten times its size? Is the work with glitter and rainbows bruised? What might we experience when we notice a sculpture that resembles pink cotton candy, which, upon closer inspection, speaks of cannibalism? And what if an artwork offers a solution to the pursuit of eternal youth?
The exhibition Superficial reflects upon the phenomena of individual interpretation of aesthetics through the works by Jiri Geller, Riikka Hyvönen, Mari Keto, Joonas Kota, Jani Leinonen, and Aurora Reinhard.
Zetterberg Gallery is pleased to present Goodbye Reality – a pioneering collaboration between artist Jani Leinonen and VR/XR tech company Varjo. The exhibition invites visitors into a mesmerizing mixed reality experience. Harnessing the power of the Varjo XR-3 and the Unity engine, Jani Leinonen establishes new methods for creativity, brings tangibility to NFTs, and unites digital and physical art in a never-before-seen way.
Leinonen’s physical artworks on show consist of his vibrantly colored alphabet designs. Each letter, with uncanny corporate symbolism, seems to play on the subconscious triggers that ubiquitous brands have instilled in us throughout our lives. When putting on the XR-3 headset, visitors will enter a mixed reality experience. They can see the gallery exactly as before, except this time with photorealistic, virtual representations of the same alphabet design letters hovering in front of them – allowing one to reach out and touch each individual letter, moving them, duplicating them, or making them disappear.
Varjo’s XR-3 technology delivers the most immersive mixed reality experience ever constructed, featuring photorealistic visual fidelity across the widest field of view of any XR headset. The key innovation of this headset is that it allows for depth awareness, thereby blending real and virtual elements seamlessly. Hence, with the Varjo XR-3 headset, one can experience Jani Leinonen’s virtual sculptures in any physical space, allowing you to interact with them with your bare hands.
Read more about the exhibition here.
June 24-September 30, 2021
Jiri Geller, Riikka Hyvönen, Mari Keto & Jani Leinonen
Serving their Cocktails stirred and ice-cold Jiri Geller, Riikka Hyvönen, Mari Keto and Jani Leinonen are alluring us to keep on sipping. The artworks assembled for this COCKTAIL detour through different routes towards a shared destination. Whether through abstraction, fashion, global capitalistic symbolism, or Mesopotamian origins, the artists share one goal in common: to shake our understanding of what should make our mouth water.
Utilizing a variety of visual codes, the artists gain this shared destination with an enticing dialogue. Known for his striking aesthetics and immaculate precision, Jiri Geller stretches the limits of the form. In Killing Time (2020) everything is about to explode. How much further can you stretch a form of a seeming skull? What is the weight a balloon can bear? Questions impossible, or maybe even irrelevant, to answer through the logics of modern physics. Geller seems to state that those logics do not matter in the world, and in the space we are occupying. We have already decided ourselves, against all natural laws, how to live and how to make that life happen.
Having her interests originating from pop culture and aesthetics, Riikka Hyvönen keeps on stunning the viewer with her skills to capture moments of beauty. Her work turns abstraction into a desire to read the image. Hyvönen makes us want to understand the movement, the content, the code of her work. Adding complexity and aromatic nuances to her work, she leaves us lusting for more. And yes, lust is something Mari Keto deconstructs over and over again. Hunting for survival has turned into hunting for the most exquisite fashion items. Recognizable monogram, a two-letter signature of global avarice, gains new forms and codes turning two worlds into a single, double-layered, allegory. Keto ponders upon the relevance of the items we hunt and collect, and surround ourselves, to survive a modern day in life. As always, both Hyvönen and Keto reassemble code, visuals and matter into new meanings.
Revealing all the Lies, Lies, Lies Jani Leinonen’s collaboration with Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt has become his forte. Leinonen takes this centuries old work with historic, restoral technique and merges ancient religious iconography with the elements of contemporary advertising. Absolutely striking in their entity, these supposedly medieval ornaments frame truths into objects of desire. Accordingly, Leinonen adds up a new line of his burning businesses. This time, international banking is at stake. Slowly reaching from bottom to top, dismantled to be are all cross-border businesses and eurozone enterprises. Yet again, the organic surfaces of these works are captivating. The demolition is slowly in process. Still alive. The burned surface preserves in detail the properties of the material it once was. Shimmering in its deepening blackness, Leinonen keeps us aware how charcoal has come to connote crisis over progress. Like Keto, Leinonen strikes the viewer with an acute question: why are we still here?
COCKTAIL strikes us with a fazed view into our contemporary wellbeing. No twists are needed, when the main ingredients in this complex mix are the impressive craftsmanship combined with generous aesthetics.
Text by Dr. Aura Seikkula
If dark times can help anyone transform into something new, they certainly have done so with artist Jani Leinonen. The artist famous for his exploding colors and humorous viewpoints has taken a turn to the abyss. And it is dark in there.
In his new exhibition at Zetterberg Gallery, Leinonen is putting on display destroyed objects that he has collected from buildings that have burned down in accidental fires or arsons. The exhibition is visually and conceptually one of the grimmest exhibitions by the artist, almost completely black, with only glimpses of color sparkling in the corners of some of the pieces. There is a slight scent of cinder in the air – reminding us that the works have truly been ruined by fire.
The exhibition view is dominated by two large religious-looking sculptures. The biggest one is an oddly familiar round shape, with breathtaking ornaments that have partially collapsed in the fire. It does not take long to realize that the shape is the rose window of the church of Notre Dame that burned in 2019.
Leinonen is known for implementing thought-provoking texts in his artworks. However, this exhibition is an exception. The practically pitch black exhibition only contains one clearly readable sentence: “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. The words of Jesus are engraved into a wooden window frame of a church in East Village, New York, that burned down last year.
Next to the religious iconographies, there are also national, financial, and cultural symbols of prosperity – all burned to ashes. A golden coat of arms of Finland, a fancy Goldman Sachs’ corporate sign, and a decorative mirror from a bourgeois home have all incinerated in fires around the world. This obscurity in the history of the objects gives us no clues whether we should feel loss or empowerment for the annihilation of these objects. Perhaps it is best to feel both. Sadness with a glee, anger with compassion, confusion with a hint of satisfaction for these symbols of power being obliterated so beautifully. It feels like some of the objects deserve to be burned, but for others, it feels like sacrilege.
Leinonen’s Things We Lost in The Fire opens at the same time as the artist’s impressive installation The Truth at Serlachius Museum. Leinonen has constructed a miracle inside the museum by bringing a burned-down chapel with miraculously intact and colorful stained glass windows. The works at Zetterberg Gallery continue where the museum show ends, making the stories behind these burned buildings and objects deeper, more complicated, and more real. Leinonen leaves us with more questions than answers.
After years of emphasizing his agenda, it seems that Leinonen has learned not to point it out, leaving us to decide for ourselves what will arise from these ashes. It doesn’t make the viewers’ task any easier, or more comfortable, but perhaps it makes it more interesting.
As gods of fire we walk the earth
The titan Prometheus stole the divine fire from the Olympus and gave it to humans. Fire was civilization, fire was creation, but fire was also destruction. Fire was control and independence, fire was chaos and fear. Fire was development, opportunities and new forms of arts and skills. For receiving this gift, humankind was punished with all the misfortunes and diseases of the world and was thrown out of paradise, to never again walk alongside the gods, the moment Pandora’s jar was opened.
At the bottom of the jar, there was hope. The hope emerged as a consequence of the fire.
With fire, humans began to burn the earth, the air, the animals, and each other. We surpassed the gods – then we forgot about them. Wars and revolutions are born out of fire. One thing perishes and burns out in favor of something new. We are driven by burning hatred, by burning dreams, by burning hope. No longer do we associate fire with opportunities and creation. Today, the fire of creation is hidden behind factory walls and in machines, so we no longer see it. And so, we no longer pay any special attention to it. Today we see the fire in burning cars and forests, in rebellion and indifference. Fossil and dying.
We burn our candles at both ends.
We burn mark each other.
We burn bridges.
We burn out.
We burn off.
We burn down.
Then it all turns black and quiet. Until we find hope at the bottom of the jar – until a new titan enables us to surpass the gods again.
Out of the ashes grows new life. Metamorphosis is a frightening thought, and that something is going to die is a terrifying thing. We do not know what comes after the fire. What burns gives life to the soil and from the ashes the ancient Phoenix bird arises. Nothing can last forever, neither nations, banks, nor religions. Mythologies create narratives that give us a sense of unity, meaning, and purpose. We believe devotedly, if not in one, then in the other. We firmly believe while seeming to have forgotten about hope. Mythologies emerge, live, and die. What we once believed in, is now a superstition, and what we believe in today will one day raise eyebrows. We are all going to die and perish, and our thoughts and spoken words will disappear. Yet, hope will live on. Like the burning love for life that we cling to. But what is formed in the fire, in the heart, will endure – as will art.
Erlend G. Høyersten
Director at ARoS
Aarhus Ultimo February Anno Domini 2021