During 3 November–3 December, Helsinki Contemporary is hosting Maiju Salmenkivi’s Happy Garden exhibition – the colour saturation and fantasy worlds of her works illuminate the grey scene of November. In the paintings, tree houses like labyrinths are built into dense forests, and the water element is part of the original impression of many works. The worlds of the paintings are spread into the gallery space also in the form of a three-dimensional installation. In addition, Salmenkivi will present, for the very first time, in some ink and watercolour works made on paper.
In the paintings of Happy Garden, made with acrylic, oil and spray paints, the rhythm builds from the meeting of regular and organic forms. Earlier explored spontaneous brushwork of the artist has sided with a more deliberate and sharper brush stroke, occasionally even a sawtooth mark. The worlds of the paintings have in parts been built a colour surface and a line element at a time, like in the exhibition’s central, large-scale painting Chinese Puzzle. Drab suburban scene becomes aesthetic by chequered picnic blankets, colourful pendants and gazebo structures. Grid and pyramid structures pace the painting in a new way.
Architecture gets room in the production of Salmenkivi, which has been inspired by urban and fantasy-like moments. Different, and strange to each other, places and cultures meet and the characters in the scenes bring the paintings intensive feeling of presence. Starting point has been simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar architectural subjects and places, which recede from their origin in the paintings. Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater building has inspired a painting carrying the same name and in which a structure of more irregular cots meander.
Central part of the exhibition are Salmenkivi’s ink paintings. In the hazy forests of the organic Wald series, characters are climbing trees and the fine-tuned moods are rooted in an interest in the forest. Ink and watercolour technique has enabled spontaneity and has brought an element of surprise to the painting process.
A painting’s relationship to space has always interested Salmenkivi. The starting point of the installation in Happy Garden exhibition is a greenhouse or a space, where we protect something. Spatial work brings tones that connect to the paintings’ charged scenes and Chinese decorativeness.
Maiju Salmenkivi’s (b. 1972) works were previously presented in Helsinki Contemporary in the Field Trip group exhibition in summer 2016 and in the solo exhibitions Playground in 2015 and Splash in 2012. Salmenkivi’s works have been seen widely in both solo and group exhibitions around Finland and abroad, last time in the group exhibitions The Only Way is Up in the Stavanger kunsthall (2016) and Sensual Knowledge in Landskrona Museum (2017). Her works are i.e. in the collections of EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Amos Andersson Art Museum, Turku Art Museum and Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.