Liisa Pesonen

Born 1962  |  Lives and works in Espoo


The Finnish painter Liisa Pesonen started out as a printmaker, a history that is as evident in her restrained compositions as her background in psychology. Featuring ambiguously representational monochromatic forms against bleached out white grounds, these works are invested in gestaltism. That is, they evoke a reckoning with the ways in which we draw order from chaos in our perception.


Pesonen strives to achieve this with as little as possible: Still lives or landscapes emerge from just a handful of discrete, almost familiar silhouette-like forms in a bold palette of yellow, mauve, burgundy, and black, with an occasional flirtatious spot of cerulean or wash of grey. She applies a spatula, roller, brush, or marker pen to canvas in muscular swaths and confident lines that occasionally break down into more capricious flicks and twirls.


The resulting canvases appear to be documentation of the artist chasing sun spots, or observing the transformation of an object burned into her eye as it enters her memory. And in fact, Pesonen paints from memory, allowing her production to impact her perception of an object in as much as the object informs what appears in a picture. She has discussed this process in terms of psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva’s concept of a space wherein the semiotic and symbolic are yet undifferentiated. In her paintings, Pesonen describes, on one hand there is “the independence of the mark and its sign-like character, and on the other hand the mark vanishing into the sign and in turn the sign dissolving as a mark.” Her canvases make a case for such moments of indeterminacy and undoing.