2019 JUL–SEP

Maija Luutonen examines the boundaries of painting

Maija Luutonen, Installation view from the exhibition Soon at SIC, Helsinki 2016. Photo: Tuomas Linna

Helsinki-based visual artist Maija Luutonen works primarily with painting, creating abstract images on paper and turning the two-dimensional medium into three-dimensional installations. Luutonen is Triangle Art Association’s and FCINY’s artist-in-residence from July to September 2019. The residency is supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

“I originally started painting on paper, because I wanted to explore spatiality. Paper itself is neither a reflective material nor has a dominant structure on its surface. That enables the creation of the sense of space just by painting. Over time I have gotten used to the material and created my own working rhythm and method to which the approachability and spontaneity of the material fits well. Paper sheets are easy and fast to roll or cut out, paper doesn’t need priming, it’s light and affordable.”

Maija Luutonen, Untitled Background, 2016. Acrylic on paper, 10 m x 2,7 m. Installation view from CAC, Vilnius. Photo: Andrej Vasilenko.

Even though painting on paper is still Luutonen’s primary method, she has lately been exploring other materials, too. Her most recent work – currently on view at Rauma Triennale – is an entity of works comprising of two textile pieces and a series of paintings. For her solo exhibition at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki last year, Luutonen created sculptural objects as well as textiles to accompany her paintings.

“I had already broadened my repertoire to three-dimensional objects in an exhibition at SIC, an artist-run project space in Helsinki, in 2016, and the sculptures at Kiasma were a bit similar. Many of them were replicas of the real-life objects I have in my studio, such as benches, shoes and bottles.”

Maija Luutonen, Still, textile, acrylic on paper, acrylic and ink on paper, 2019. Photo: Titus Verhe

Luutonen is one of the founders of SIC. The space and the collective around it has been significant supporter of Luutonen’s career in creating a meaningful context to work in. SIC was initially founded in 2012, because Luutonen and a group of other visual artists felt like the Helsinki art scene was missing a relevant space to show their art. During her residency period in New York, Luutonen is looking forward to getting inspired by art spaces around the city, and to getting to reflect her own art to the scene. She is planning to break away from her habitual ways of working and to pause to question her methods.   

“I believe that working in a new milieu gives me perspective.  I’m also waiting to experience the rhythm of working which is very different. New York is very fast-paced, but still somehow calming environment. It’s probably the anonymity one has in a big city, that allows you to take the stand of an observer, creating a peculiar, inspiringly grounding response to the hectic environment.”

Detail of Patch, 2018. Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki. Photo: Tuomas Linna