As a part of the #100artinhelsinki project for Finnish Art Agency Irene Suosalo will interview 6 interesting contemporary artists. The interviews will be published during spring 2018 on our website. Irene met the artist Maija Närhinen at the Gallery Sculptor where her exhibition More is More is currently on. Gallery Sculptor is a contemporary art gallery located in the Helsinki city center and maintained by the Association of Finnish Sculptors. The exhibition is open until 20th of May 2018.
Maija, tell us about your background?
M: “As a child I loved the library and watercolours equally, but the language that speaks without words – visual expression – began to interest me more so I ended up being a visual artist. At the Academy of Fine Arts I studied both painting and sculpture. When I graduated I was, and I still am, fascinated with combining two- and three- dimensional pictures and the game between their differences.”
How did you end up using your current methods?
M: “I am interested in the formation of a picture. I create combinations, collections, crossovers. The entirety formed by pictures, parts of them or parts of objects, gives the work its shape and naturally a part of its content. In my new works I continue to work on the method of assembling from smaller components; they are kind of structures and systems made out of three-dimensional parts. For example, earlier I combined paintings with three-dimensional objects.”
Who or what is your inspiration?
M: “The surroundings, wondering of materials and probably also the work process itself. As I create my works I come up with plans for the next ones. I often use materials that are extremely well-known in everyday life and they often have had a double life; they have been used for a certain task and I can give them a new life by creating works from them.”
How has your working developed?
M: “My works have grown bigger in size during the last years. But even when I used to make more small size paintings, I liked when the work was in process for a quite a while. I like the slowness of a handicraft process since it makes me forget that the world is busy and everything should be accomplished in the fastest and most efficient way.”
What do you want to say with your work and why?
M: “For example, my exhibition this spring addresses the space through its opposite; not having a space and destroying it.The works are ponderings of a space. I ended up making the works out of boxes because the box fascinated and confused me in its equivocality and simplicity. It is an empty space, but on the other hand it is a sign of consumption and filling of the world. Even when the box is empty it can be thought as an object in itself or just a shell. In everyday life it is a memory of an object, a memory that we quickly want to get rid of.
The works in the exhibition are inventories, catalogues of boxes. The elements they are made of, cardboard boxes – empty spaces, have been filled with each others and organized based on their size and colour. The “organizing systems” born in the works are impossible: the more there are empty boxes, the less space there is left. It is important that, for example in visual arts, we use and have to face different materials in works since we, as physical beings, stay pretty much the same even if we digitalized everything.”
Do your works comment on any of today’s social and political problems?
M: “My exhibition at the Sculptor is critical against consumption through the choice of material. It can lead to wondering what the boxes might have contained; what has been necessary and what useless. Also, what deserves its space in the world and does this question, with all its rights and obligations, reach all people.”
What do you feel like is the position of an artist in today’s Finland and with the current state of the world?
M: “Working as an artist, it is hard not to question; are values, that don’t bring imminent financial profit, forgotten in larger schemes or have they even been acknowledged. Different forms of art have their own places. Even if it was desired, art is not a political instrument because the content of art cannot be tied to politics, improving of health or to anything else, beforehand.”
#100artinhelsinki is a Finnish Art Agency’s project in which photographer Irene Suosalo keeps up with art events, exhibitions and gallery openings happening in Helsinki while also getting to interview few artists on their work.
1) Maija Närhinen at her exhibition at Gallery Sculptor. Photo by Irene Suosalo.
2) Kukka/Flower 2015 scanned images/ pigment ink print Ø 300cm
3) Joki /River 2015 scanned maps/pigment ink print 340cmx340cm
4) No more! 2018 pahvilaatikot/cardboard boxes 220x220x20x15cm