Ilari Hautamäki’s Indoor Fireworks exhibition shows a series of new, vividly coloured paintings.
By varying their diverse elements the paintings occupy the middle ground between the functional and the organic, the built and the natural. To Hautamäki the works are abstract, but some recognizable elements have also been consciously chosen for them. It is up to viewers whether they see in these works the green leaves of a plant, a butterfly’s wings, insects, all of the above, or something else entirely.
Hautamäki describes himself as aiming for freedom in his painting, while still retaining his own characteristic rigour. He is interested in nature’s ‘perfect chaos’, in how the uncontrolled can simultaneously be in exactly the right order. The working process begins spontaneously and intuitively, after which the work advances more slowly. In the paintings we move between different levels – what appears to be in the background is actually in the foreground, and vice versa. The elements of the works also move forwards and outwards, projecting out from inside the frame, blazing like fireworks.
“What I am after is a polarization, and also a competition, between the organic and the industrial level, and the tension formed out of them, through which a balanced image arises. This equation interests me, because it creates a challenge and an inquisitiveness about my compositions, and about my processes.”
The rhythms and movement in Hautamäki’s paintings recur from one work to the next, but varying as they do so. Alongside the movement and brushstrokes the paintings also contain flat colour fields and blank spots and gaps, thus giving rise to the rhythm that is the hallmark of Hautamäki’s works.
Ilari Hautamäki (b. 1983) is a Helsinki visual artist. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, in 2011 and has since shown actively in solo and group exhibitions. His most recent sizeable solo exhibition was at the HAM Gallery, Helsinki, in 2017. His group exhibitions include those at Mänttä Art Festival, Hämeenlinna Art Museum, Jyväskylä Art Museum, and the Young Artists exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki. In 2018-2019, Hautamäki took part in The Touch exhibition series at Tornio Art Museum, Seinäjoki Art Hall and Pro Artibus’ Sinne gallery in Helsinki. His works are represented in Helsinki Art Museum, HAM’s collection, the Wihuri art collection, and elsewhere.
Camilla Vuorenmaa’s exhibition Roses, Black Birds and Witches explores superstitions and urban legends. The subjects of the works are witches, vampires and wizards. Vuorenmaa collected background materials in Scotland when she was living there in 2018 and has, for instance, read accounts of the history of witches and of children driven to the verge of mass hysteria. Around this same time, witches were coming up in the media and literature more frequently than before. Vuorenmaa is interested in the need people have to find a common enemy, and via which we seek to protect ourselves against phenomena that we do not understand. She, nevertheless, treats her themes with a certain humour and the aesthetic of her works contains references to 1990s horror films. We are on the boundary between good taste and the macabre.
The characters – fierce, creepy, strange and mischievous – occupy the centre of the paintings. The figures are open to interpretation; we project our own imaginings into the picture and construct a story around it. Another major element in the works is their decorative patterns, which evoke thoughts of tattoos or ancient designs, the inspiration for them found, for example, in old graveyards.
“The series of works Three witches (with overall, shorts, dress) is both a self-portrait and a comment on the famous three monkeys. In the most direct, western interpretation of the Chinese story the monkeys see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. This three-monkeys philosophy, which was previously linked to moral thinking, has often been turned into a satire of itself. We could say that in these works I am examining my own relationship with morals or double standards, and with the preconceptions and fears related to being a woman.”
In her artworks Vuorenmaa combines painting and carving. In the pieces made on wood panels these techniques live in a kind of symbiosis – supporting each other, feeding each other – but also generate a variety of tensions. The carving makes it possible to remove layers, and the marks of the carving can be obliterated by painting over them. In the new works the painting has taken up more space and the carved lines are more concentrated and deliberate. The artworks emerge in a process-like manner and Vuorenmaa works on several pieces simultaneously. The whole thing is constructed naturally since the works reach completion side by side. The final dialogue between the artworks arises in the gallery space during the hanging.
Camilla Vuorenmaa (b. 1979) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, in 2005. She was a candidate for the Ars Fennica award in 2017 and won the Fine Arts Academy of Finland Award in 2015. Vuorenmaa has had solo exhibitions at EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Forum Box, Helsinki, and elsewhere, and has participated in group exhibitions including at Galleri Thomassen in Gothenburg, Amos Andersson Art Museum, Helsinki, and Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre, UK. At Helsinki Contemporary her works were in the Field Trip group exhibition in 2016. Vuorenmaa’s works are in important public collections, including at Kiasma, Saastamoinen Foundation, EMMA and Helsinki Art Museum, HAM.