Leena Nio: Mood Constructions
Galerie Forsblom, January 11–February 10, 2019
Opening with the artist in attendance January 10, 2019, 5–7 PM.
Leena Nio (b. 1982) leads the viewer into an imaginary world of childhood flashbacks in her latest paintings. Her dream-like oils feature recurring motifs such as wooden huts, abandoned houses, and barren landscapes, all woven together in a self-contained dream universe. Dredged from the depths of the artist’s subconscious, these insistently resurfacing motifs create a mood of haunting tension. Among the artist’s sources of inspiration is Stand By Me (1986), a coming-of-age film based on a novella by Stephen King. The movie recounts the adventures of a group of 12-year-old boys who are forced into a painful confrontation with adulthood.
Despite their melancholy atmosphere, Nio’s paintings convey the idea that playfulness is inherent to her work method. Nio builds real-life studio versions of many objects portrayed in her paintings, such the small wooden cubby houses and wings of wooden planks. Building and hand-crafting is a connecting theme linking all the works in this new exhibition. Nio’s paintings pay homage to the imagination, celebrating the richness of our inner world. The wooden cubby house is like a metaphor for creativity – a place of refuge for constructing a parallel reality.
Nio’s creative process has distinct phases; each series of works highlights a new technique that she gradually develops before putting into play. Her previous exhibition featured wispy, weightless watercolors that blend fluidly with the ”taping” technique of her new paintings. She came up with the idea of the plank-like patterns by drizzling paint onto a vertically taped canvas. She allows the paint to run freely on the striped surface, creating a lively effect that seems a logical continuation of her semi-abstract, plump clouds and rhythmically undulating grasslands.
Earning her Master’s in Visual Arts from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2010, Nio was awarded the prestigious Ducat Prize by the Finnish Art Society the same year. In 2014, she was named an Ars Fennica candidate. Her work is represented in a number of Finland’s leading public art collections, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Saastamoinen Foundation and the Sara Hildén Art Museum.