Timo Valjakka

  • Iiu Susiraja, Flirttiä vessan istuimen kannen kanssa (Flirting with the Toilet Seat Cover), 2018, color print, 26 x 18".
    picks May 11, 2019

    Iiu Susiraja

    The photographs and short videos in “Dry Joy,” the first retrospective of Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja, are all self-portraits—though the press release rejects this term, favoring “performances for the lens”—which incorporate commonplace domestic objects: brooms, flowers, balloons, umbrellas. Various foods make an appearance, too, especially sausages and raw fish. “It all starts with the object,” Susiraja says. But she uses these props “wrong” or unexpectedly, touching herself with them in ambiguous sexual references or flaunting a plain naughtiness, turning the pictures into strange role games

  • Outi Pieski, Golle-eana / Gold / Land of Gold, 2013, acrylic on canvas, thread, 33 1/2 x 25 1/2”.
    picks November 20, 2018

    Outi Pieski

    The most eye-grabbing work in Outi Pieski’s current exhibition—and perhaps the most thematically grounding—hangs from the ceiling. It is made up of dozens of the V-shaped fringes found on the vibrant scarves worn by the Sámi women of the Sápmi regions of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. The Sámi word in the work’s title, Falling Shawls / Čohkiideapmi, 2017, means “gathering,” and indeed, Pieski, who has recently begun to make her art collaboratively, gathered twelve seasoned craftswomen to create the installation. Historically, the Sámi have been nomadic people for

  • Grönlund-Nisunen, Ultrasound Installation, 1996, parabolic mirrors, stainless-steel stands, Geiger counter, control unit, amplifier, speakers, LEDs, 66 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2'. Installation view, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium.
    picks February 13, 2017

    Grönlund-Nisunen

    “Grey Area,” the title of the first-ever retrospective for the Finnish artist duo Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen, known as Grönlund-Nisunen, refers to the way their site-specific works occupy a space somewhere between visual art, natural sciences, architecture, and electronic music. According to Paul Klee, “art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible.” Grönlund-Nisunen seem to have taken his words literally, as they investigate various physical forces and natural phenomena that are beyond the reach of our senses but which still impact our daily existence. If everything is going

  • View of “Matti Kujasalo,” 2016
    picks March 21, 2016

    Matti Kujasalo

    The Finnish artist Matti Kujasalo defines himself as a systematic constructivist. He executes his paintings according to precalculated rules, based on various ways of dividing up square grids. And yet these rules are so complicated that—rather than attempting to figure them out—it is better to enjoy the paintings just as they are: intricate and exact patterns made up of thousands of small squares on large circular or square canvases.

    Kujasalo’s practice has its roots in 1960s Op art, especially in the work of artists such as Bridget Riley and Richard Anuzkiewicz. Kujasalo spent several decades

  • IC-98, Abendland II (The Place That Was Promised), 2013, two-channel video installation, black-and-white, sound, 16 minutes.
    picks October 23, 2015

    IC-98

    Are we capable of imagining the world after ourselves? Can we conceive of our planet after a massive nuclear or ecological catastrophe, with only minimal traces of a defunct human existence and a few lingering fragments of mutated nature? The Finnish duo IC-98 (Patrik Söderlund and Visa Suonpää) says we can and should envisage just such an eventuality. They have created animated films that show the planet’s surface completely enshrouded in leaden skies and stormy waters, as in Arkhipelagos, 2013, and a large decaying tree that is the last living thing on Earth, as in the three-part Abendland,

  • Lars-Gunnar Nordström, Composition, 1952–53, enamel paint on board, 48 x 62".
    picks July 08, 2015

    Lars-Gunnar Nordström

    The painter and sculptor Lars-Gunnar Nordström was a self-taught artist who began his career as a kind of cubist primitivist but soon moved on to a severe form of Concrete art. In 1949, he was the first artist in Finland to show abstract artworks. Today he is considered a Nordic classic.

    During his formative years in the late 1940s and ’50s, Nordström divided his time between Finland and Sweden, often also spending time in Paris, where he met American artists including Ellsworth Kelly. Visits to New York in the ’60s brought him in contact with Stuart Davis, Josef Albers, and others. As this

  • Jani Lenonen, The Things You Own, 2014, acrylic on product packages, 23 x 23 x 3".
    picks April 13, 2015

    Jani Leinonen

    In this exhibition, Finnish artist Jani Leinonen’s recipe is as simple as it is effective. Two types of work are displayed: large text-based reliefs and smaller collages of colorful cereal packages. The former are based on the typographies of well-known logos, but their distinctive design identities are manipulated into spelling out common sayings or quotes from popular culture. In the latter, Leinonen replaces familiar international brand names with single words, which when several boxes are juxtaposed form sentences such as “The things you own end up owning you,” in The Things You Own, 2014.

  • Pilvi Takala, Drive With Care, 2013, video, color, sound, 13 minutes.
    picks September 30, 2013

    “The Invisible Lady”

    This group exhibition includes the work of four Finnish artists who in various ways focus on the border between the subjective self and the surrounding world. The title of the show refers not to the art on display but rather to a real though inconspicuous figure, Mrs. Stina Krook Stiftelse, a benefactor whose support has made it possible for the artists to make these new works.

    Erkka Nissinen’s video in Material Conditions of Inner Spaces, 2013, which was filmed in Hong Kong, combines Buster Keaton–like comedy sketches with stilted quasi-philosophical phraseology. It provides insight into the

  • View of “Thomas Schütte: Frauen,” 2013.
    picks April 22, 2013

    Thomas Schütte

    Thomas Schütte’s first solo exhibition in the Nordic countries includes eighteen monumental steel, bronze, and aluminum sculptures from his 1999–2011 “Frauen” series. Displayed on heavy steel tables, they draw not only on the tradition of twentieth-century figurative sculpture—marks of artists as diverse as Aristide Maillol to Henry Moore are alive in these robust works—but also on the history of female representation in general. While the sculptures demonstrate Schütte’s brilliant sense of scale and materials, they are more than exercises in stout bodies, with forms so simplified they almost

  • View of “Hannu Väisänen,” 2013.
    picks February 20, 2013

    Hannu Väisänen

    There have been two major turning points in the artistic career of the Finnish artist Hannu Väisänen. One of these came in 1998, when he was invited to illustrate the Finnish national epic The Kalevala; the other came in 2004, when he published his first novel, Vanikan palat (Pieces of Crisp Bread). While working on The Kalevala, for which he traveled to West Africa, he also invented a new pictorial language. Since then he has published three more novels and his writing process seems to have purged him of any need to paint narratives.

    Nowadays, a typical Väisänen painting appears to contain

  • Toby Ziegler, “The Alienation of Objects,” 2009, aluminum, cargo container, 54 x 77 x 78".
    picks October 31, 2012

    Toby Ziegler

    Toby Ziegler’s working process is central to his art; this is evidenced in the handmade appearance of the two sculptures on view here. He begins by selecting reproductions from books and the Internet, favoring such items as ancient Greek sculptures and Victorian porcelain dogs. He also prefers objects with unusual stories, as exemplified by the documentary video accompanying the show, which traces the history of an African sculpture that may once have belonged to Picasso.

    After finding a suitable image, Ziegler feeds it into a computer program, which turns it into a simplified 3-D model. The

  • View of “Tomás Saraceno,” 2012.
    picks September 12, 2012

    Tomás Saraceno

    To those familiar with Tomás Saraceno’s room-filling, spiderweb-like sculptures, his latest solo exhibition may come as a surprise. While it includes one large-scale thread installation, 14 Billions (Working Title), 2010, the rest evokes as much a biology research center as a traditional art exhibition. The walls are painted black, the lights are low, and the atmosphere is hushed. One large room is dedicated to live spiders, both in small, transparent Plexiglas boxes and in big, open terraria. On display in other rooms are films and large drawings presenting Cloud Cities—Saraceno’s utopian