Cris af Enehielm (b. 1954) is a provocative artist who works with equal facility as actor, director, scriptwriter, dancer and costume and set designer. Striking a bold feminist pose, the exhibition at HAM showcases af Enehielm’s work with an emphasis on her paintings from the 1980s and 1990s. The show also includes two new monumental paintings and a review of af Enehielm’s work as a pioneer of Finnish performance art.

Af Enehielm’s breakthrough as a visual artist took place in the early 1980s when she created a body of work featuring grotesque and emphatically bodily female figures. She drew inspiration from her own personal life as well as from comics, pop art and representations of women in advertising. At the turn of the 1990s, the female figures in her work were replaced by eternal goddesses as a tribute to motherhood or Mother Nature. The works also began to contain indications of af Enehielm’s interest in Jungian psychology and Oriental philosophy.

Cris af Enehielm has been a key figure in Finnish performance art since the 1980s.

Enehielm was a member of the legendary performance groups Fågel Fenix, Les Mutiles, Homo $, and Jack Helen Brut, and most recently was with the sound and motion performance group Särjen ääni. The common features shared by these groups are an anarchistic attitude and investigation of the notion of gender. Af Enehielm has also had an alter ego since 1983, Blinda Morton, who writes songs, sings and performs.

The two monumental paintings in the exhibition were commissioned by HAM from af Enehielm with funds for public art. Following the exhibition, they will be mounted permanently at adult education centre Arbis in Helsinki.

Most of the works on display are from the collections of HAM.