Laura Ukkonen

23rd March – 19th April 2015


Laura Ukkonen: Shipwreck (2015), ink on paper, paper cutting, 20 x 23 cm.

Laura Ukkonen: Shipwreck (2015), ink on paper, paper cutting, 20 x 23 cm.

A woman is lying on the floor in a room lined with chairs. Who is this woman? Does she belong in the room where she is? I don’t know.

My exhibition features drawings and parts of a travel journal. The artworks are semi-fictitious portraits, rooms and landscapes. They are based on documentary observations of surroundings and moments where seemingly nothing happens. I draw with pencil, ink, coloured pencil and charcoal. The works are based on an art historical journey to renaissance Florence and into the late 17th century Finnish manor landscape. Among other things the trips have been about exploring my freedom of movement. But they are also a drawer’s expeditions into the history of picture making. My personal experiences and my interest in women’s history mix together. For example, what kind of a trace is there in us of the late 17th century woman for whom it wasn’t socially appropriate to walk alone in a park? Loneliness, feelings of being an outsider and sociability mix together. I draw both private and public spaces: homes, parks, cities and fields. A human being is an organic part of her living environment.

I spent July 2013 in Florence. Serious women stared back at me from the renaissance portraits on the wall of the Uffizi Gallery. One of them was a woman with a laurel wreath (Sebastiano del Piombo: Portrait of a woman, 1512). She might have been a poet, they say. I looked at the wives, daughters, lovers, nannies and sisters. Wealthy women have often been immortalised as faithful and virtuous wives. I focused on the secular images even though the religious and antique mythologies are also a part of the imagery. I also followed in the footprints of a Finnish painter, Elin Danielson-Gambogi. She lived in Italy in the beginning of the 20th century and pictured the Tuscan landscape and herself, the portrait of a female artist. In Saari Manor, where I spent the winter 2014, layers of different centuries could be found in the manor, surrounding buildings and the misty landscape. Like in Florence, the historical milieu merged with the present. Who was I in these landscapes? How about the chatelaine Eva Matilda Aminoff in the early 17th century manor, what was her life like in interiors divided into men’s and women’s-and-children’s spaces?

In my works, the present and the past mix together. In the Tuscan landscape the contemporary woman poses for the viewer in her sportswear. The symbols of wealth are travel photos, a grip on nature and a meditative concern of one’s health, both mental and physical. Does she smile any more than the renaissance women? We make commissioned portraits of ourselves. History is unknown for many but the layers of time are present in the landscape, gestures and emotional states. The woman in my work Shipwreck (2014) doesn’t know where she is, but gradually in all spaces one finds something to be fastened on and something to be withdrawn from. The dreamlike characters of Dorothea Tanning haunt this image. Leaving the renaissance, I am already on my way to exploring another interesting world, surrealism.

Laura Ukkonen, b.1977, is a visual artist (MA, Aalto University 2012) working mostly with drawings. Documentary observations on everyday life mix together with drawing as a world of it’s own where lines and colours take over, making previously invisible emotional states visible. Before studying art, she has studied art history and gender studies at Turku University (BA 2009) and clothing at Helsinki Polytechnic (Bachelor of Textiles, 2005). She is currently undertaking MA studies in art education at Aalto University. Among other artistic work Ukkonen illustrates the Private Affair -pictorial story (written by Bertha O.) which has been published in the Voima magazine between 2013 and 2014. Laura Ukkonen works and lives in Helsinki.

The opening of the exhibition is on Thursday 26th March at 6 pm. Welcome!

Meet the artist on Sunday 12th April at 2 pm.


Kone Foundation