Henna Aho — Hypofutulore
I didn’t take it for granted any “art” would appear in this exhibition. If for a moment while working I had a clue of a painting, the next day it faded into a vague memory laying on the top of random blankets, carpets, books or forks. A shoe, blue, something to eat. A piece of string, softness, urge to use the bathroom.
Hypofutulore wanders in-between art and everyday life; art tries to attach itself to the picture like in a painting, while at the same time the physical world penetrates through the surface in forms of everyday objects and materials – as if trying to prevent a picture from forming up. On the other hand, it is too romantic to think, that “art” automatically turns everyday life into something better or holy: on the contrary “art” has an enormous energy to disturb reality into a situation, where it becomes impossible to name familiar objects like a shoe or a vacuum cleaner unambiguously.
Through her art, Henna Aho (b. 1977) navigates aspects of expanded painting – from the traditional weaving techniques of Finnish peasants to the philosophy of new materialism and Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett. Aho sees the painting as an endless mycelium, which connects her own Barbie girl narrative to the art history of new realism and to playful artistic processes. This vague matrix is the framework through which the artist traces her place in the chaos and heals the traumas due to existing in it.
Aho graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2022 and has also studied at the University of Arts and Design Helsinki. She has exhibited in several group and solo exhibitions, the latest in Mänttä Art Festival (2022) and Turku Art Hall (2022). Aho’s work is represented in the collections of HAM Helsinki Art Museum, Turku City, Turku University of Applied Sciences and the Finnish National Gallery.
The exhibition has been supported by Aboa Vetus et Ars Nova foundation, The Finnish Cultural Foundation /Varsinais-Suomi Regional Fund, Turku Art Association, Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
Päivikki Alaräihä — Movements of Thought
The appearance of the paintings is rather minimalistic. When there are less to look at, the viewer can focus on details. For example, the surface structures of painting canvases may capture her attention. She sees that the smoothness of Friend 1 contrasts with the roughness of Friend 2. And now when her gaze is sensitized by the paintings, she may become interested in the surface structure of the wall too.
Friend 1 and Friend 2 refer to one another’s surfaces in a straightforward manner. But in the exhibition there are also paintings that speak less directly. For example, when Tough guy or Stick refer to the surrounding room, they do this by providing sort of abstract points of comparison. Tough guy is in the corner of the gallery where it acts as a horizontal plane that delineates a prism – a kind of geometrical representation of a room. Stick serves as a yardstick for the height of the wall.
However, making “direct” or “abstract” comparisons cannot be the only ways to interpret the exhibition. These means are by no means suitable for all the works exhibited. For example, Jamb – an installation that blurs the division between an object and its background – clearly doesn’t fit in these frameworks.
Most of the works in the exhibition have in common their relation to concepts which regard space. At least all the paintings in the past examples refer in one way or another to the surrounding room, opening aspects of the place where the viewer moves around. However, it is possible that there is no single interpretation key that would fit every work. Better to think that one interpretation is good with some works and another interpretation with some others. In any case the shared possibility of an interpretation grounds a tie between two pieces, and step by step these small threads cover the entire exhibition, connecting paintings into a network.
Päivikki Alaräihä (b. 1981) lives and works in Helsinki. Her work looks into various relationships between space, body and artwork which Alaräihä examines through media of painting and installation. Alaräihä graduated from University of the Arts Helsinki in 2015. Recent solo exhibitions include for example galleri Anhava, Helsinki (2019), and galleri Sinne, Helsinki (2016). Her work has been featured at Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (2019) and Kuopio Art Museum (2018). In 2020 she received the William Thuring prize.
Taru Happonen — Cosmic Zoom
Taru Happonen’s latest exhibition Cosmic Zoom at Forum Box aspires to comprehensiveness both in the artist’s choice of materials and in the subject matter of the works. Happonen uses materials classified as natural materials as well as plastic; although it is good to notice that plastic also originates from nature. Happonen’s material palette this time includes oil paint, pearlescent pigment, recycled plastic and linen. The multi-materiality of the painting shows up also in the framing, as the artist frames her small linen-based works with recycled plastic frames. These material combinations expand the understanding of the possible materials of a painting.
The artist describes her work as follows: “The starting point of my works is to look at organisms and the environment from microscopic close and far from a cosmic scale. The works examine the earth as it is, complex and constantly changing. Contemplation is gentle – I have equal respect and wonder for different species, materials, and environments. Central to my new works are patterns that occur in nature at different scales.” Happonen is inspired, for example, by the wings of butterflies, the structure of cells, the star nebula and aerial photographs depicting the human-built environment. In this respect, she follows a tradition where the artist’s work examines both the details and the broad perspectives of the world. Her work is like practicing practical philosophy in a material form with the means of contemporary art and in its context.
The central idea of Cosmic Zoom is to showcase how organic and synthetic are inextricably intertwined in nature. Happonen highlights the unity of life that follows from this and the kind of material layers that occur over time. Mixing different materials and visual starting points has a central place in her work. This collage-likeness is something by which the viewer can reflect on their own ideas about temporality, materiality and the picturesque. The artist herself says the following: “In my expression, I give hints with expressive features, which I partially break down into abstract ones. Material choices are a continuation of my thematic thinking – organic and synthetic are inseparably intertwined in nature. In the works, different patterns, shapes and materials form links to each other.”
In her works, the artist reflects on the meanings of different materials and their nature in the spirit of New Materialism. In this context, it is good to notice that the materials themselves are part of nature, even if they are not originally organic. By mixing different materials, Happonen gives viewers the opportunity to reflect on their own relationship to the division between nature and non-nature. Instead of creating a boundary between these different pools, the artist emphasizes continuity and cohesion. Nature is diverse and it also contains substances that originally were not understood to be part of it, thus the materials of contemporary art also do not have to be classified as organic or inorganic, but can contain more.
Happonen’s works takes the viewer to the edges of the visible; in the layers of her works also the invisible and hard-to-perceive details gain importance. It is as if Happonen takes the viewer through blindness to somewhere into the fabric of being, where wonder transports us over the inexplicability to personal experience. Her art speaks of the meaning of wonder and the profound nature of the unfolding of experience. The artist’s statement comes close to a worldview, as she creates connections between different dimensions and shows how the micro and macro levels meet through the means of art.
PhD Juha-Heikki Tihinen
The exhibition has been supported by Taiteen Edistämiskeskus ja Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse
Taru Happonen (b. 1989) is finishing her Master studies in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. She has exhibited her works actively in Finland and abroad, most recently at Saatchi Gallery in London and Galleria Huuto in Helsinki. Her works are in the art collections of the State of Finland and HUS. She is a member of the Finnish Painters’ Union.