Viljami Heinonen

Born 1986 | Lives and works in Tampere


The leading roles in Viljami Heinonen’s works are characterized by grim human figures and the oppressive space that surrounds them, while in many pieces the context constructed around these figures is an abstract reference to the artist’s state of mind or a place that he finds important. A dreamy and surreal appearance creates a Kafka-esque atmosphere, and the colours and anxious characters recall Francis Bacon’s screaming portraits and crude, distorted human bodies.


Movement is more essential to Heinonen than the characters, however – the expression and rhythm are naturally formed while the light, colourful humour allows the themes of the works to breathe. The paintings in the exhibition are visually more subdued than his previous works, but they are still dominated by the same influences and themes. The form language that Heinonen has adopted reflects concepts of modern society –  the aesthetics of games, popular culture, and photojournalism – which manifests in the paintings, while art history traditions add an influence of their own.


In addition to oil and acrylic painting, Heinonen has also switched to tempera, which he mixes himself. The physicality of the artist’s work is evident in the end result; he does not make things easy for himself and the dialogue with the fabric is not always straightforward, but during the process he struggles and eventually tames his work. Risk-taking is an essential part of his painting.


The works are imbued with a psychologically distressing emotional atmosphere. The layered and jigsaw-like impression creates an image of an ever-changing life where parts do not fall into place. A person’s strong inner emotions could easily resemble Heinonen’s expressive, colourful and splashy works.