Founded in 1933, the Turku Printmakers Association is the oldest local printmaking association in Finland. Its aim is to promote the practise of printmaking, to supervise the professional and social benefits of printmakers, and to both maintain and expand the information available on printmaking. The association’s membership includes 92 artists. From the year 1967 onward the association has had its own workroom for printmaking, which is presently located in a space governed by the Finnish Artists’ Studio Foundation in Raunistula, Turku. Another important aspect of the association’s activity is the Gallery Joella, operating on Läntinen Rantakatu since 1986.
A Celebration of Printmaking is the Turku Printmakers Association’s 80th anniversary celebration exhibition. Through its decades-long enthusiastic work the association has secured a renowned and vital position for printmaking in Turku. The long-standing association is celebrated with an exhibition of new works by fourteen visual artists, all engaged in printmaking in diverse ways.
Techniques on display range from woodcut to animation and site-specific installation. The artists were chosen in February 2013 through a portfolio submission open to all members of the association. The jury that made the choice consisted of printmaker Visa Norros, artist Tiina Vainio and curator of Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Silja Lehtonen.
Contemporary Printmaking Defies Definition
There are two sides to printmaking in the field of contemporary art. One the one hand, tradition and slow handwork arise when discussing it. On the other hand, contemporary printmaking is also about uniqueness, free expression and breaking boundaries – just as contemporary art in general. Many artists also emphasize the importance of chance in the creation of their work. While printing is associated with the idea of control, the work of a printmaker is also strongly affected by intuition and the unpredictable, mysterious nature of the finished piece.
Each of the artists involved in the exhibition has a printmaking technique that is closest to him or her. Many describe engraving both as a meditative and a very tangible stage in their work. As for the printing itself, it is an exhilarating moment that is over quickly, but which leaves a permanent mark on the surface used. Despite the close relationship with their techniques, the artists emphasize that techniques are tools used for realising an idea and achieving the desired outcome. A technique does not categorize an artist.
Artists of the 80th anniversary exhibition of Turku Printmakers Association
Annika Dahlsten’s (b. 1975) stone lithographs combine traces of expressive painting with exact, fragile strokes. In her newest piece Safe Haven the lithographs are exhibited in parallel with a puppet animation dealing with death and immortality. The prints almost resemble abstract fragments from the world of the animation.
Tonja Goldblatt (b. 1977) has worked on the fringes of printmaking in the recent years, producing glass engravings, drawings and artist’s books. Now she has returned to printmaking with works that merge monotype and drypoint techniques, small infinities that need to be examined up close.
Markku Haanpää’s (b. 1978) eight-part E-motives is a series of monotypes mixed with charcoal drawing. Monotype is a painterly technique which an artist can use to study colors, their opacity and transparency.
Matti Helenius (b. 1951) is specialized in collagraphy and carborundum. Here the plate is not corroded or engraved as in other techniques, but materials are added on it. Helenius uses leather as his printing material. In his new series Puzzle, the human figure familiar from Helenius’ recent output has been replaced with a pared-down abstract shape.
Katri Ikävalko’s (b. 1985) work Circle of Dreams originated from sheets and the symbolism associated with them. For the artist, bedclothes are a stage of both rest and safety, fear and nightmares. Churned-up sheets turn into landscape art in Ikävalko’s large lithography work.
The long-time chairman of the Turku Printmakers Association Juha Joro (b. 1957) often works on themes related to the flow of time and to the experience of silence. His works are characterized by scarcity and subtlety both in shape and color. His work shows the influence of eastern visual arts, in which empty space plays an important role.
In the recent years Sirkku Ketola (b. 1973) has made several site-specific installations that utilise printmaking. She makes photography-based serigraphs on wood and paper. The final dimensions of the work depend on the space where it is exhibited. This applies also to the new series Pirouette for which the artist has produced literally meters and meters worth of serigraphs.
Heli Kurunsaari’s (b. 1971) woodcuts occupy the space between painting and printmaking. Her works are made up of numerous layers of color that multiply as more layers are carved out of the wood plate. Kurunsaari is known for her narrative pictures, but in her newest, pared-down works space and different shapes play the lead role.
For Teija Lehto (b. 1965) the most important form of expression is the woodcut. She is especially known for works depicting everyday life. The value of simple, everyday life is elevated through imagery that contains objects familiar to us all – bowls and cups, ornaments and cookie boxes. In Lehto’s most recent pieces nature and the passing of seasons also play an important part.
For the past ten years Laura Miettinen’s (b. 1968) work has been based on photographs that she has worked into unique pieces through the pigment transfer technique. The scale of her work has grown and the relationship between the work and the exhibition space has become very significant to the artist. For the A Celebration of Printmaking exhibition she has prepared a spatial work that displays the artist’s interpretation of divinity.
Marita Mikkonen (b. 1964) portrays nature and landscapes in her work. Mikkonen’s stone lithographs are based on the artist’s own photographs. To this Mikkonen adds color rolled from a wood plate. The works are based on personal moods and experiences of nature. Working on them can produce an end result far removed from the photograph that provided the initial spark of inspiration.
Kökar-based Marjatta Nuoreva’s (b. 1944) subjects are the sea, archipelago and cliffs. Her technique of choice is the drypoint, which enables drawing directly on the copper plate right by the view. Her newest works have taken shape in the Åland archipelago. Some of them have even been drawn in a boat, the fine-tuning and printing taken care of in the artist’s workroom.
Veronika Ringbom (b. 1962) employs drypoint and carborundum techniques, which can be used to produce both delicate and harsh, painterly strokes. Her works contain mysterious and ambiguous shapes and characters, which the artist has gathered from her subconscious, dreams and contradictory emotions.
Hanna Tammi (b. 1965) is known for her use of the black and white line. Her prints and drawings contain only black and white tones. The central themes of her comics-evoking works include the life of a woman, growing up, and play and confusion in the world of a small girl. In addition to prints made on paper, the new unity of works includes three small fabric sculptures.