Painting and memory / family photographs

“Family stills” work in progress

Most people agree that family photos represent “something emotional” for the individual owner, no matter what the images actually show: staged ritual events or snapshots of the everyday.” Sandbye, Looking at the Family Photo Album: A Resumed Theoretical Discussion of Why and How

Memory is a hybrid – like our everyday living among other people. It is made a mixed agglomeration of tangled thoughts, feelings and inner universes of those around us and including us. I think in some way we all have been lied to – in fact we do not remember almost anything about our first days being alive. Childhood seems to be a story that we were told.

“(…) if one can remember some experience, Locke’s says that one in fact had that experience. It is by this reasoning that Locke arrives at the most controversial portion of his theory which suggests that the converse of the previous argument is true: if one cannot remember some experience, then one did not have that experience. Memory is therefore, according to Locke, a necessary condition of personal identity.” Piccirillo, The Lockean Memory Theory of Personal Identity: Definition, Objection, Response

Does my identity depend on what I remember and know? If I don’t remember it, then perhaps it didn’t happen to me. But if I remembered it, maybe I would have understood myself better. Today I am deciding about what happened – I can create fictional images. I can also, like a scientist, investigate scraps of memory and photographs, which are the only proof and basing on that I can create my own theory of my past. My personal big bang.

No. These memory puzzles that I can see, together with those missing ones, do not build a whole, constructed unity, which I represent as an adult. It looks more like a chaos – almost nothing fits. I think this sort of collage is interesting – a messy one. Mystery and nostalgia are wrapped around the foggy images of what I think is part of my memory. I can’t tell the difference between what I experienced as a little child and the story in my head that was built throughout years by other people…

Monster in the room


100 x 60, oil on canvas, copyright: oini


There is a monster in the room
Only one of us
Can see it

Spirituality and forms / Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky, 1947

Her Landscapes, 2014 / copyright: oini

In 2014 while working on a Her Landscapes photographic series I was looking for ways to describe my ideas of constructing images that would represent myself but in an invisible, perhaps spiritual, dimension. During that time I was fascinated with creating landscapes made of body parts, abstract forms, shapes and colours. Discovering an essay Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1947) by Wassily Kandinsky gave me a better understanding of what I was trying to make.

Throughout the process of development of his works, Kandinsky discovered that spirituality is tightly connected to our experience of the world through abstract forms, colours and shapes. He believed that the true work of art is spiritual and is capable of nourishing and inspiring the human‘s spirit, similarly as religious art. Kandinsky is exploring the reality of our experience of the world through creation of familiar but completely new forms, which have nothing to do with existing objects as such. In his essay Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1947) he states that “no theory can be laid down for those things that lie in the realm of the immaterial. That which has no material existence cannot be materially crystallized. That which belongs to the spirit of the future can only be realized in feeling, and the talent of the artist is the only road to feeling“ (Kandinsky, 1947, p. 31). In this quote the artist explains how illustrating the spiritual realm or a religious experience is impossible because we cannot visualize the unsubstantial. As opposed to the figurative religious painting (Rembrandt, Caravaggio or El Greco), in his works the spiritual realm is made of geometrical forms, freely painted colourful lines which explore the harmony, symmetry and beauty of the mathematics, which all the objects of the universe are made of. I see it as science combined with art. It makes me think of atoms and particles that are like abstract matter we don’t see with the naked eye but it moulds the world we operate in. For Kandindsky human spirituality is like a pyramid, and the artist is meant to lead others with their work to the top. ”It is a spiritual pyramid, advancing and ascending slowly even if it sometimes appears immobile. During decadent periods, the soul sinks to the bottom of the pyramid; humanity searches only for external success, ignoring spiritual forces” (Kandinsky, 1947, p. 61-75).

The spiritual experience is the one of a delight in a colour; it is like an illumination, a sudden understanding of it and feeling it – colour enlightenment that causes an emotional arouse. Kandinsky calls it a “vibration of the soul”, an “inner resonance” or “a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself” (Kandinsky, 1947, p. 61-75). For the painter the perception of the colours depends on the inner experience. The artist believes in the ‘absolute phenomenological life’, called like that by a French philosopher Michel Henry. It is a subjective experience fully based on ones perception and emotion towards the object that is being experienced.