29 April - 4 June 2023
Tiina Pyykkinen (b. 1983) paints with light to explore how it stimulates vision and enables the showing and hiding of things. She experiments with various combinations of light and material, studying how paints, surfaces, and illumination can be brought together to elicit unique perceptual responses. Over the years, Pyykkinen’s investigations have generated visual problems to which there are no immediate material solutions. She has therefore been impelled to take matters into her own hands – often quite literally. To achieve the desired visual impressions, Pyykkinen has fabricated her own colors and tailored them to meet the specific demands of her work. This material innovation is on full display in the remarkable iridescence of her paintings: in the way their colors change with different angles of viewing and lighting.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Pyykkinen’s pictures is their three-dimensional appearance. As hologram-like objects, they transcend the limits of two-dimensionality and extend deep into their own space of representation. Pyykkinen produces this effect through a meticulous layering of paint, where each layer contributes to the overall interplay of reflected and refracted light. In themselves, the paintings are of course inert, and can only come to life through their viewers’ active participation. Indeed, Pyykkinen’s works can be said to demand and feed on the movements of the people looking at them. 

As the title of the exhibition suggests, things tend to lose their distinct shape in Pyykkinen’s paintings. But this does not mean that her works are purely abstract or devoid of any kind of depictive representation. On the contrary, the pictures build on recognizable shapes and motifs that are then obscured – to a greater or lesser degree – by formal distortion and the clever subversion of vision. Yet the imagery is there: chairs, tables, interiors, and exteriors become visible via shadows cast by trees standing somewhere outside the pictorial space of the paintings. In this peculiar sense, the contents of Pyykkinen’s pictures are revealed to us by things we cannot see.

All in all, by playing with light, Pyykkinen not only addresses the essence of seeing but also illuminates other aspects of our being. Her art deals with the embodied nature of mind and the collective and cross-generational dimensions of memory. Accordingly, her painterly practice is informed by her own embodied senses of seeing and remembering, and by the presence of other people and bygone times in her ongoing self-experience. The ultimate aim of Pyykkinen’s artwork is to capture these fascinating feelings and atmospheres so as to share them with others. She thus considers her art a “field of sharing” where, optimally, embodied beings, physical space, light, and the materiality of her paintings coalesce to produce a special experience. 

(Text by Jussi Saarinen)