Katja Tukiainen

Born 1969  I  Lives and works in Helsinki



In Katja Tukiainen’s new series of works, the viewer can recognize her familiar strong heroine as a both defiant and lyrical figure. The girl and her slogans appear in Tukiainen’s customarily energetic paintings, added to which we can detect new, poetic ingredients. Tukiainen creates hybrids of elements that are usually seen as being very remotely connected: she writes in fine script with spray paint, paints comic-strip subjects in oil on canvas, and makes use of elements of pop art, but in references to works from art history.


Tukiainen’s choreographic arrangements appear like broken symmetry, with the figures of the girls positioned at various points on the canvas. The characters are usually surrounded by a graphic pink background with neon-toned accents. The simplicity of the background allows the painting gesture to occupy the foreground. The text and the varying fonts take the works’ message and visual effect to a new level.


Tukianen says she has recently been particularly inspired by carnivals and circuses, which can serve as magical refuges for adults, too. Her art has overtones of magical realism, which combines supernatural elements with the real world. The works’ pop-art features refer especially to neo-pop art, which characteristically mingled pop culture, cartoons and graffiti. Neo-pop existed as a movement in the days of postmodernism, which was typified by pastiches, i.e. imitations of historical artworks, but interpreted them in new ways. Tukiainen’s art thus defies classification, but succeeds in touching tangentially on multiple movements while creating absolutely its own style.


These different elements combined bring Tukiainen’s main protagonist to life. The girls’ presence is both poetic and feisty, they are active agents, not objects. Tukiainen says she wants to tell a story through the girls, while leaving room for the viewer’s own interpretations. One viewer might focus on the joy evoked by the characters and the colours surrounding them, while another immerses herself in the empowering messages of the paintings.