Leena Nio: Missing Pieces
Galerie Forsblom 13.1. – 5.2.2017
Opening with the artist in attendance, 12.1.2017, 17.00–19.00
Leena Nio’s latest paintings combine classic art history motifs with portraits of Hollywood icons and cartoon heroes of past decades. The missing fragments have a special narrative function. The missing piece in the portrait of Prince Louis XVII is an allusion to his bottled heart, which was removed and circulated in the courts of Europe long after the prince’s untimely death. Other motifs chosen intuitively by the artist include the billowing, blow-dried hair of a Charlie’s Angel, Johnny Depp’s brown eyes and idyllic pastoral landscapes, all of which evoke the idea of great beauty mixed with the fantasy imagery of jigsaw puzzles.
Her multi-layered paintings have the grid-like structure of a jigsaw puzzle or needlepoint design. Nio questions what constitutes a finished work: her paintings look unfinished. Empty spaces alternate with painted planes, the pictorial surface by turns assembling and disassembling again, the unpainted paper picking up inflections of light. The exposed tan-hued surface is the same color as a needlepoint canvas.
Jigsaw puzzles and needlepoint are both leisure diversions inherited from past centuries. Nio equates them with the work of an artist: both painting and jigsaw-puzzle assembly are solitary pursuits guided by the idea of completing something unfinished.
Leena Nio (b. 1982) graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2010. She was awarded the Finnish Art Society’s Ducat Prize later the same year. Nio was shortlisted as a candidate for the Ars Fennica prize in 2014. Her work is represented in major Finnish collections including the Sara Hildén Art Museum, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Saastamoinen Foundation.