October 25–November 24, 2019
Opening in the presence of the artist, October 24, at 5–7pm
Jenni Hiltunen (b. 1981) is a bold user of color and examiner of humanity, a topic she tackles through the lens of girlhood, womanhood and motherhood. The figures portrayed in her paintings comment on the cultural history of womanhood and motherhood, while simultaneously telling personal stories. Hiltunen reflects on how today’s idealized, sexualized and romanticized cultural rhetoric contributes to shaping our self-image and the evolution of our identity.
Hiltunen’s color-drenched female figures stop us in their tracks with their intense gaze – they stare us straight in the eye with an air of fatigue and disgust, conveying unequivocally how tired they are of being the perpetual object of the gaze, or then intentionally staring straight past us, avoiding eye contact. Her paintings, like fashion imagery have a magnetic pull; there is something about them that forcibly seizes our attention. They tell intimate stories transcending the superficiality of glossy fashion portraits – they are windows onto our shared experience of reality and everyday life.
Hiltunen’s paintings draw visual inspiration from fashion imagery and photographs of her family. These dual reference points are intimately connected to the artist’s personal history. As a young girl growing up in rural Finland, Hiltunen and her sisters entertained themselves by staging make-believe fashion shoots in deserted farmhouses and fields. Growing up, her only female role models, in addition to members of her own family were MTV stars and models posing in second-hand fashion magazines. The contradiction between these two realities was a major formative influence for the artist, leaving an indelible mark on her identity and her conception of beauty, opportunity, happiness – and humanity overall.
Jenni Hiltunen graduated from the Turku Arts Academy in 2004 and the Academy of Fine Arts in 2007. She has held several solo exhibitions and has participated actively in group exhibitions both in Finland and abroad. Her work is represented in the collections of Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Saastamoinen Foundation Collection. Hiltunen is based in Helsinki.