The surface offers everything

Many typical questions surrounding paintings seem out of context when examining Ilari Hautamäki’s works. What do these paintings tell, what do they portray? The answers are less relevant.

Hautamäki’s paintings are based on form. Their subjects adapt well to this purpose as abstract arrangements starring plants. Be the subject a greenwall, a flower pot, or a climbing plant, the subject becomes secondary to the surface. Hautamäki represents intellectual contemporary painting where the form is the most important content.

This said, we can forget the question of representation. A more interesting question is to ask what the paintings tell. And even that would better be phrased as: What happens in these paintings?

Ilari Hautamäki: Sticks and stones may brake my bones, 2017 © Ilari Hautamäki
Ilari Hautamäki: Sticks and stones may brake my bones, 2017 © Ilari Hautamäki

Through a first inspection, the seemingly static paintings seem to include many different events. These events do not inform us of growth, landscapes, nor even of the cultural history of still lifes. The events in the paintings are tensions, forces and balances between different forms and colours.

This is all ambiguous. The spectator’s previous knowledge of the history of abstract art undoubtedly plays a part in their interpretation. Another part is played by the visual experiences already known to excite the viewer. Some might look at the paintings through one’s own experiences of nature, others through virtual reality or architecture. The fundamental experience has to do with different perceptions of beauty.

Ilari Hautamäki: Charmer, 2017 © Ilari Hautamäki
Ilari Hautamäki: Charmer, 2017 © Ilari Hautamäki

An emblematic feature of Hautamäki’s art is a two-fold colour palette. Hautamäki is a colourist, yet one who uses primary colours very deliberately. The range of colour often shifts to white, leading to strong contrasts between pastel hues and a scarce scale of primary colours, as seen in several paintings. A bright, translucent green dominates the paintings. Strong and lively, it offers a breathing counterpart to the pastel colours in their comfortable, static standstill. The dichotomy of two different worlds of form is also based on the inner movement of painted surfaces. The calm surfaces of colour and the elements confining the illusion of movement throughout the surface of the piece battle the bold, relaxed, expressive-like brushstrokes as freely as the leaves of a climbing plant against a tile wall.

Ilari Hautamäki: Deep sea dweller, 2017 © Ilari Hautamäki
Ilari Hautamäki: Deep sea dweller, 2017 © Ilari Hautamäki

Hautamäki does not represent a mechanical or efficient type of abstract painting. He reaches for a voiced imagery where the decaying form of informalism fits into the same arrangement with conventional concretism through an obedient irony. His works are often confined inside the painted surface. The concrete solutions where Hautamäki frames his arrangement from almost every possible angle are like a declaration to examine the painting as a surface. On the other hand, the quiet hints grow louder and gain significance as the viewer aims to let the painting develop in one’s own mind well past its concrete surface.

Veikko Halmetoja

Ilari Hautamäki: Greenlight, 2016 © Ilari Hautamäki
Ilari Hautamäki: Greenlight, 2016 © Ilari Hautamäki