Iho - Skin
Main Hall, 2 Mach – 27 May 2017
In recent years, Helsinki-based artist Antero Kahila (b. 1954) has addressed topics such as estrangement, loneliness, and the feeling of not belonging in his work. In his upcoming exhibition, to be held in the Main Hall of Hyvinkää Art Museum between 2 March and 27 May 2018, the artist examines the interface between the self and the world; encounters with the world; and the fears, uncertainties, and internal conflict arising from these encounters. For Kahila, art offers a channel for presenting questions and exploring meaning and meaningfulness.
The visual tools used by the artist bring the Baroque paintings of the 17th century to the viewer's mind, and not by chance. After all, Kahila is perhaps best known for a unique large-scale project, completed in 2008, in which he reconstructed the painting Saint Matthew and the Angel, by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, which was lost or destroyed during World War II.
Over the course of his career, the painter has carried out numerous excursions to art museums in Southern and Central Europe to study traditional painting methods. His profound interest in the optical and technical solutions applied in old art was spurred by a desire to introduce the ideas and applications of the layered painting technique to contemporary art.
The new exhibition's name, 'Skin', refers to the interface where the self ends and the world begins. The theme also encompasses the mental interface: the things that penetrate our minds and the things that remain outside. Protecting us against external stimuli and acting as a sensory organ, the skin is important to us on a concrete level too. In the works to be exhibited at the art museum, this symbolism extends to artificial surfaces. Cold materials, such as tarpaulin, membranes, and plastics, can be used in a similar manner to separate and insulate materials and worlds from each other.
Kahila adopts a humane and empathetic approach to his topics. In his work, he often depicts the human body and its parts – faces and hands. However, his images usually have something essential missing, which serves to obscure the whole. By leaving something out of his paintings, Kahila gives the viewer freedom to fill in the empty areas and offers space for interpretation. It is also a way of intentionally disrupting the viewing experience and challenging the viewer.
The backgrounds in Kahila's oil paintings look monochrome, either light or dark. On closer inspection, these apparently single-colour backgrounds reveal new optical depths and form spatial environments realised with numerous hues. The simple backgrounds direct the viewer's attention to the central event. Everything extraneous has been left out. For Kahila, the dominating light and dark tones of the backgrounds do not represent anything good or bad in themselves; rather, they emblematise something mysterious, a hiding place for meaning.
The paintings presented in the exhibition 'Skin' range from 10 metres to half a metre in size. The largest work in the exhibition, a 2.7×10-metre painting, represents a clear departure from the artist's previous style. This work is part of the joint project Seven Ways to Find a Meaning, which was inspired by poet-musician Kirsi Poutanen's poem 'Observatorion tarkoilla teleskoopeilla sen näki...' ('The powerful telescopes at the observatory made it visible...') (Café Kurskin naiset, Tammi 2008). Kahila's painting is accompanied by a sound installation realised, scripted, and composed by Poutanen.
Kaapo Gallery, 2 March – 27 May 2018
Samuli Heimonen, Salla Lehtinen, Sebastian Lindberg, Maarit Malin-Pötry, Maaria Märkälä, Pete 'Hende' Nieminen, Ron Nordström, Tiia Orivuori, Reijo Puranen, Soili Talja, Katja Tukiainen, and Anniina Vainionpää
Samuli Heimonen: Remember, 2018, mixed media
In 2014, the exhibition 'At the Altar of Contemporary Art' brought together a group of artists to explore the question of what an altar made by an artist would be like. The project culminated in an exhibition held at Kasarmi Art Centre, in Tuusula, in which the artists approached the topic from their own, unique perspectives. The curator of the exhibition, Tiia Orivuori, Master of Fine Arts, wanted to move forward with the theme and crystallise the ideas: which topic is so important to the artists that they would take it with them on a journey, perhaps even on that final journey? For the exhibition to be held in Hyvinkää, the group gained two new members. Therefore, the exhibition at Kaapo Gallery will encompass 12 travel altars, created by 12 artists.
Various cultures and religions have used altars, for different purposes. Primarily, 'altar' refers to a structure at which religious rites are performed. In addition to permanent structures, altars have traditionally been erected on transport vehicles, while travel altars that can be carried, or even worn around the neck, represent the lightest form of an altar. In the Christian tradition, travel altars have served worshippers who for some reason are unable to make the journey to a church. An altar may also offer a place for personal contemplation.
Today, religion and spirituality may be unfamiliar concepts to many but people still often regard things, ideas, and people important to them as 'sacred'. The concept has traditionally been connected to religious thought and seen as something that is the opposite of everyday and worldly. However, in secular discourse, 'sacred' can be used to refer also to things that we hold in high value, such as nature, freedom of speech, human rights, and people – or even books – that are important to us.
The travel altars created by the 12 artists address topics such as the artists' approach to art and the themes and techniques that are important to them. Another property that all these works share is their small size. The artists were guided by clear principles: the technique could be chosen freely as long as the work fitted in a box with dimensions of 10×15×10 cm. This format pushed the artists to crystallise their artistic expression while clarifying their attitudes to ideas and topics that rise above the mundane.
2 January 2017 – 31 December 2018
Yrjö Saarinen's paintings and drawnings from Karin and Eric Sonck's collection
Helene Schjerfbeck room (which exhibits the artist's paintings, photos of her models in Hyvinkää)