Uudenmaankatu
Aki Turunen,
Spring Fantasy
7.5. - 25.5.2014

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Aki Turunen
Spring Fantasy
Galleria Huuto Uudenmaankatu
7-25 May 2014

The signs of spring: the song of a blackbird in a birch grove, the persistent coltsfoot, a glimpse of a brimstone butterfly and a flooded river with tadpoles. Signs of spring give you joy and help you face life year after year.

The Spring Fantasy exhibition features paintings of spring. The exhibition encourages us to look at the season surrounding us right now and to enjoy what it has to offer. The artist explores spring like a child. Play is real! Imagination is real! Sincerity is real! Sensitivity is real!

The paintings offer a visual experience. An eye, which is a recurrent motif in the paintings, parallels the art conception based on looking. The artist wants people to look at the paintings and to draw conclusions based on what can be seen in them. The artist wants to change the art scene so that what is seen in an artwork is valuable. The creation of the exhibition is based on the artist’s love and passion for painting. The ethos of the exhibition is based on positive counterproposals, instead of lame complaints focusing on problems.

Spring Fantasy brings something new to the language of painting, as Turunen calmly paints the surfaces. The artist looks for linguistic idioms: How the paint settles on the canvas in a versatile manner and on its own terms and how the color shades match each other. The tool is listened to and used, for example for painting blackbirds and birches.

The exhibition is a celebration of heavy metal pigments. Especially cobalt blue and violet are prominently present in his paintings. Ode to cobalt cerulean! Praise to cadmium orange! Beautiful animal glue bases make a statement that in the middle of the throwaway culture one has to have the courage to create such art that will stand the test of time forever.

The Spring Fantasy paintings are based on the wisdom of other pictures. Turunen thanks the pastel colors of plaster in Nordic classicist buildings. His thank-you text mentions Hiroshi Sugito’s skill for stylizing shapes, Georgia O’Keeffe’s ability to calmly slide the color from one to another, the dryly thin paint in Helene Schjerfbeck and Tyko Sallinen’s works and the feel of the material in Birger Kaipiainen
ceramics. Turunen praises Tove Jansson’s adventurous spirit, Odilon Redon’s imagination, the floating motifs of the ukiyo-e tradition and Hayao Miyazaki and first and foremost Paul Klee’s discerning yet playful artistic nature. May this intertextual list serve as a source of encouragement for the viewer to acquire extensive knowledge about painting.

In the Spring Fantasy exhibition, Turunen displays works from the active artistic period. He has been open-minded and experimental with his previous works, but focused on the art of painting. In this exhibition he is able to fully express himself and use his old methods in a versatile manner.

Aki Turunen is a 30-year-old painter from Helsinki who earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He has taken part in exhibitions since 2006 and has held two solo exhibitions. The first exhibition explored how we understand the medium and theme of a painting through art history and the second one was about how we can relive the intensive moments of our past experiences through a painting. Elegant sensitivity and perceptiveness is characteristic of Turunen’s works.

Further information:
Aki Turunen
tel. +358 40 759 0597
Email: akiturunen(at)kolumbus.fi

The Power of Imagination – A Painting’s Eye on Springtime

Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet,
My last year’s friends together

One have I marked, the happiest guest
In all this covert of the blest:
Hail to Thee, far above the rest
In joy of voice and pinion!
Thou, Linnet! in thy green array,
Presiding Spirit here to-day,
Dost lead the revels of the May;
And this is thy dominion.

While birds, and butterflies, and flowers,
Make all one band of paramours,
Thou, ranging up and down the bowers,
Art sole in thy employment:
A Life, a Presence like the Air,
Scattering thy gladness without care
Too blest with any one to pair;
Thyself thy own enjoyment.

Amid yon tuft of hazel trees
That twinkle to the gusty breeze,
Behold him perched in ecstasies,
Yet seeming still to hover;
There! where the flutter of his wings
Upon his back and body flings
Shadows and sunny glimmerings,
That cover him all over.

My dazzled sight he oft deceives,
A brother of the dancing leaves;
Then flits, and from the cottage-eaves
Pours forth his song in gushes;
As if by that exulting strain
He mocked and treated with disdain
The voiceless Form he chose to feign,
While fluttering in the bushes.

“The Green Linnet” by
William Wordsworth (1803)

Spring is the season from March to May when the weather starts to warm up. Spring is also a metaphor and abstraction, a moment when nature and life awaken. In the springtime, things are created seemingly out of thin air – the sunlight returns, the air is full of bird’s song,
green, yellow, white and red things begin to rise from the grey ground… Spring is a season for celebration, transformation and new beginning. Equally, it is an ephemeral moment in the passing time.

Such polarities mark the vernal months, which are symbolized by Dutch still life paintings of the 17th century. For example, Jan van Kessel’s works depict the life of butterflies and flowers. They remind us of how life remains in fleeting bloom, only to wither and fade away
shortly after.

In the history of art, however, spring is a season that is commonly celebrated. Spring has been the subject of Renaissance artists from Sandro Botticelli to Albrecht Dürer. Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring (1478) is one of the most famous mythological portrayals of spring, whereas in his watercolour The Great Piece of Turf (1503) Dürer gave a meticulous expression to the details of vernal plants in a state of early decay. Later, impressionist painters from Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet to Vincent van Gogh eternalized the light of spring and blossoming orchards. A more symbolic face of spring can be seen in the works of Odilon Redon and, in the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe, among others. In Finnish art, the idea of spring becomes often associated with Helene Schjerfbeck’s painting The Convalescent (1888) and its glimpse of green colour, as well as with canvases by Pekka Halonen, in which the light of early spring is reflected upon the snow.

Looking at the signs of spring awakens our imagination. After the dark winter, it feels as if the variety of colours and sprouting of nature’s forms were countless. The spectator is dazzled by the increasing light, being almost too much to take in. Watching the excess of details makes one to take only one step at a time, in careful measures. The abundance of light may overpower even the artist, since working is possible only in the right kind of light.

But where does the ability to create images originate from? Could the artist’s work be compared to lingering in eternal spring: in its novelty and freshness inherent in the unforeseen reality? Is it a matter of imagination, creative thinking and productivity, as expressed by the Greek word poiesis?

As works of art take shape, the artist creates a world of his own, in which possesses the uncontested power. His position of an auteur allows him to observe his surroundings and form the unique and unbound reality of his works. The artist’s inner visions are born without obligation to mimetic conventions. Accordingly, the imagined worlds visible in the works are not simple reproductions of our reality – even if the artist would have given them the titles of “Brimstone”, “Spring Flood” or “Blackbird”. These paintings gaze at us with either one, two or several eyes; we gaze back, and see the surface of the paintings which opens us a whole world produced by the artist’s imagination.

What is meant by ‘imagination’ and ‘mental image’ is not the same, however. The connection between these terms is still obscure even for scientists, and as phenomena of the human mind, they both are partly inexplicable. Mental images are evoked by thinking, dreaming, perception and memory, and they come up involuntarily. Imagination, in turn, means processes of thinking which belong essentially to creative endeavour, be it storytelling, scientific theorizing, or painting.

Yet imagination and mental images do not belong to thought only. They are rather akin to perceptions, for they are of sensory nature, even to the extent that images of the mind are comparable to real sensory experiences. For this reason, such images always occupy a time and a space; they come and go, and like pain or visual impressions, they can be stronger or weaker. In addition, mental images are inseparable from the perceptions they engender. Thus, they are not only a result of conscious activity, but are also sensed, seen and heard.

Fantasies do differ from reality. At the same time, it is also true that every imagined thing reminds us of something real. Thus, creative imagination cannot be identified with illusion or false belief. The images it invokes do not appear out of nowhere, but are elicited by previous experiences, which one may know from completely different circumstances. As an activity, imagining is free, autonomous and not bound by practical concerns. Thus, its goals are not the same as those of seeking of either practical or theoretical knowledge.

Can one imagine art that would not be based on imagination and on making new and unexpected connections? Could the world even occur in a work of art in a manner that would appear as simply realistic, so that the artist would be happy to repeat things of the world “as they are”? Perhaps the truth of art is of another kind: originally imagined and fictioned. By imagining singular truths, particular to his works only, the artist makes space for the unique rhizomes of his thought and perception. Their growth rises from the surface of the paintings in a way similar to a spring’s seedling protruding from the hardness of the earth.

Martta Heikkilä