The solo exhibition of Kaija Hinkula, Stargazer, in the HAM Gallery presents new sides of the artist’s boundary-breaking expression.
In recent years, Kaija Hinkula has repeatedly expanded the possibilities of painting by creating works that could be seen as spatial interventions, such as those presented in Forum Box (2021) or the Oulu Museum Of Art (2022). In these both, the artist created a reinterpretation of the exhibition space with her installations. Hinkula can also surprise the audience, for example by bringing the aesthetics of construction site into the gallery room, as in Gallery Harmaja in Oulu in 2019. Hinkula’s newest exhibition, Stargazer, remains within the HAM Gallery, but now she will recreate the painting object.
The works exhibited in Stargazer are, in the artist’s own words, ‘modelling manuals for a new universe’. The artist has also described her previous artistic vision by stating that ‘my works are centred around displacing a place, an observation or a material from its context and transforming it into a new shape, space and action.’ But what does this mean in practice? In her new works, the artist has laser-cut holes in a painting canvas. The works may feature fake braids or thread as well as ceramic miniature sculptures hanging from the canvas. Hinkula’s exhibition will reach its final form in the gallery space as the works are hung, but the space will feature works of different kinds, moving somewhere between paintings and sculptures, which could be described by using the artist’s own expression, fantastic minimalism.
What is fantastic minimalism? It is – naturally – imaginative and colourful, but it can be just as well characterised by minimalistic monochrome tones and disciplined language of form. Hinkula blends different worlds together in uninhibited ways creating playfull fantasies, so the severity or restraint often linked to minimalism is not present here. Readymade and handmade as well as two-dimensional and three-dimensional are both contradictions that the artist combines together one work at a time. This time, spatiality is present inside the paintings, where audience can peek into, thanks to the holes cut in the surface. On one hand, Hinkula’s works bring to mind parallels to cubistic ideas or Brazilian concretism of the 1910s, but they also seem to fit well in this time and place while also reaching towards the future sci-fi aesthetics.
Hinkula’s material world is opulent, as she supplements the traditional painting pigments with a wide range of other materials. In the works of Stargazer, she has also used MDF, alkyds, spray paint, fabric, nylon, polyester thread, ceramics, a globe and metal pipes. Recently, the artist has also become interested in moving pictures, which will open up new possibilities for her in the future. Hinkula’s work process is characterised by multi-temporality and multi-materiality, which she applies to explore the possibilities offered by different forms of work or their different presentation methods. Or, as the artist herself expresses her current way of thinking: ‘I have been thinking about futures. I have been thinking about new logics – and methods for a circle.’
When the artist asks if it would be possible to imagine alternative realities and word orders, the answer is yes. And she proves this through her works and exhibitions, showing how art is always a form or dissidence and rethinking. Hinkula takes her audience into an experience that reveals surprising directions and views. She does not offer a static style or expression, but rather shows the fantasty-like views born in her studio. Hinkula’s workspace does not have a chair, because the artist never remains still and is always in motion. The same applies to her art, described as ‘malleable geometry’ or a ‘place between realities’. Stargazer à la Kaija Hinkula takes the viewer to galaxies far, far away, simply by sight. This, if anything, is fantastic minimalism.
Text: Ph.D. Juha-Heikki Tihinen
Kaija Hinkula (born 1984) has graduated as a visual artist from the Saimaa University of Applied Sciences and as Master of Arts in the subject area of Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts. Her artistic work takes place in the field of expanded painting, where two-dimensional paintings expand into sculptural and spatial experience, combining methods of fields such as sculpture and time and space arts.