Art critic by Veikko Halmetoja in Helsingin Sanomat newspaper 14.7.2010

8140 kg exhibition

Anssi Kasitonni – Jani Leinonen – Katja Tukiainen

The themes of Katja Tukiainen’s (b.1969) paintings have become more lucid in the last couple of years. Within the pink candyfloss world the dark side of dreams is also included in an even more insicive and mature way. Tukiainen examines power and exploitation. She looks into product proliferation, the all permeable commercialism and the end of childhood. Tukiainen’s work is related to Yoshimoto Nara and Shintaro Miyake, but she is not their follower, but works alongside them. Her visual imagery has the same reference points as these earlier mentioned Japanese painters.

This year she is conducting a series of enormous wall paintings in different places in Finland. The part b of the Paradise-series is painted in the TR1 exhibition hall in Tampere, and combines both sweetness and obscenety: an all permissive fantasy. The body of work called Katja Tukiainen is finely introduced by a videowork, where the artist herself is dancing, scantily clad, with a mask akin to her characters on her head. The video is aimed at the artist’s fans. In a fine way it leaves open the question to what extent is the video to be interpreted as irony and to what extent is it a genuine part of the artist brand.

Together with Tukiainen in the exhibition there are also Anssi Kasitonni (b.1978) and Jani Leinonen (b.1978). These three artists are leading names within the young Finnish contemporary art. Their work have in common multidimensional humour and grotesque visuality. It is tempting to call them the new generation of pop-artists, but this definition may not be appealing to the artists themselves. The widest selection of works in the exhibition is by Kasitonni’s. Included are both his new works and also works which have become classics like K.I.T.T-car’s evening off. Kasitonni relies on boy humour and handicrafts often typical to outsider art. By investigating phenomenae of popular culture, simultaneously his work touches upon gender norms, clishees of sculptural art and international politics. He is not by any means subtle, but the laughter included in his works is within several different layers. The laughter beneath the surface is the sweetest.

Leinonen dominates the back wall of the exhibition hall with his black wall painting. The title of the work is Dangerous midsummer, and takes advantage of familiar moomin imagery. The flip-side of the sweet idyll includes sex and death and restless delirium. The provocativeness aptly reflects the alternative world of the moomins themselves. In Tove Jansson’s novels there is another world beneath the surface, of which new interpretations are seldom made. Regardless of the first impression of mockery, Leinonen’s work could be seen also as a homage. The moomins take it well that they are treated as material for contemporary art.

The speciality of the exhibition are unique tattoos which are designed by the artists, which the visitors can purchase. This way the memory of the visit to the exhibition will last a lifetime. Astonishingly, for large part, most of the tattoos have been sold. This means that we will be able to see in the streets pink comicbook girls drawn onto skin. This art is collectible for even a kind of person who doesn’t want to burden himself with possessions.

Veikko Halmetoja

(Translated by Iina Kuusimäki)

Katja Tukiainen

Katja Tukiainen: Exclusively for Platinium Members of Katja Tukiainen Fan Club, 2009, video.

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