Helsinki Contemporary has a strong curatorial focus, presenting established and younger Finnish, as well as international artists.
All various media are shown, including new media and site-specific projects, however the programme has a strong focus on painting. Artists who take an ambitious, in-depth approach to their artistic practice are at the centre of the gallery’s programme.
At Market Art Fair 2021 Helsinki Contemporary presents a curated booth of Anna Retulainen and Roland Persson’s new works.
Both artists work in an expressive manner, but in two totally different techniques. Retulainen’s paintings will be joined by Persson’s sculptures placed on the floor. Retulainen and Persson both work with a renewal of the still life tradition. Retulainen’s new work has its starting point in her garden, and more specifically a tree, which the artist paints from memory. The powerful and intense painting are recollections of places that are important to the artist. Persson’s quirky, and poetic silicone sculptures comment on the still life tradition very directly. Working with found objects is typical for Persson, the subject for a sculpture can be anything from freshly cut flowers, a cactus, an old chair, vases or even a taxidermy elephant. Both artists have a sharp eye and find observations in their surroundings to build upon. The richness in details is remarkable. Colour is important in both of their processes. Persson adds the colours into the silicone in the casting process. Retulainen’s signature rich colours are at the essence of her oeuvre.
Anna Retulainen’s new work has its starting point in encounters with people in their homes: their living rooms, studies or hallways. Afterwards the artist paints the space from memory. The expressive works can be seen as still lives, recollections of places that the artist has spent time in. The new works displayed at Market Art Fair are so called ‘spell-checks’ of the first paintings of the encounters Retulainen made. In these the artist revisits in her mind the spaces she visited and painted and tries to make sense of her recollection of colours, shapes and atmospheres.
Anna Retulainen (b. 1969, Orimattila) is one of the leading figures in Finnish contemporary painting. She has been showing works in solo and group exhibitions since 1995. She has twice been nominated for the Carnegie Art Award, most recently in 2014. In 2018, The Finnish Cultural Foundation's (SKR) Uusimaa Regional Fund awarded Retulainen with its annual 15 000 euro award for outstanding performance, and in the same year, Retulainen's paintings became the first contemporary artworks to be permanently presented at the Finnish Presidential Palace. Retulainen’s work is represented in most of the major Finnish public collections, as well as in countless private collections.
Portrait of Anna Retulainen, 2021. oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm. Image by Jussi Tiainen, credits Helsinki Contemporary and Anna Retulainen.
'Tree', 2021. oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm. Image by Jussi Tiainen, credits Helsinki Contemporary and Anna Retulainen.
Roland Persson is known for his painterly, surrealist silicone sculptures, that he casts in molds made from real objects. The silicone allows Persson to include the colour in the material itself, instead of adding the colour by painting, which makes the surface look very realistic. At first glance the sculptures almost seem like the objects they replicate, but upon closer look one can always find a twist in them. He often works with the relation between humans and nature, but always with warmth, compassion and humour.
Roland Persson’s quirky, and at the same time sensitive silicone sculptures will also have a take on the still life tradition. Working with found objects is typical for Persson, the subject for a sculpture can be anything from freshly cut flowers, a cactus, an old table, a book or a taxidermy elephant. Just as Retulainen, Persson draws upon the tradition of the still life but transforming it into something new and original. For Market Art Fair Persson will produce new works, working partly in dialogue with Retulainen’s paintings.
Roland Persson (b. 1963) is a Swedish artist who lives and works in Stockholm. Persson’s works have been seen widely in solo and group exhibitions in the Nordic countries and Europe, but also in Russia and Asia. In Finland his works were shown in a joint exhibition with Andreas Eriksson at the Amos Anderson Art Museum in 2012 and with Marlon Wobst in Helsinki Contemporary in 2016. Persson graduated from Umeå Academy of Fine Arts in 1993. He has made numerous public artworks in Sweden, for instance, Untitled in Umedalen Sculpture Park.
Portrait of Roland Persson. Image credits Frida Lenholm.
'Gravity's Rainbow', 2021, silicon, iron, acrystal, 56 x 53 x 252 cm. Image credits Sofia Olander, Helsinki Contemporary and Roland Persson.
'Gravity's Rainbow', detail, 2021, silicon, iron, acrystal, 56 x 53 x 252 cm. Image credits Sofia Olander, Helsinki Contemporary and Roland Persson.