galleri Sinne | 7.8. – 30.8.2015 | Helsinki
For her exhibition at Sinne, Päivikki Alaräihä has divided the gallery space into two: paintings on canvas and two wall-painting installations. They form two different worlds, one open and one closed. Together they create a whole that brings together questions about painting and the exhibition format.
Alaräihä’s paintings contain no details to focus on. They are more like objects for meditative seeing and contemplation. In the images the probing gaze is held in check by silence. Slow changes and shifts in values and light draw the beholder ever deeper into the paintings and, in time, myriads of layers of colour open up.
The paintings emerge via a slow process in which the canvas is carefully and methodically coated with thin layers of paint, over and over again. These are abstract studies that contain familiar shapes and rhythms. We can distantly relate them to objects, materials or light phenomena. The gallery space itself also serves as a visual reference in Alarhäihä’s work. It constitutes a kind of site-specific painting in which the room and the light are reflected. She creates spaces and plains that communicate with each other and with the gallery. Normally, an attempt is made to neutralize the gallery space so that it acts as an “invisible” backdrop to the paintings. Alaräihä, in contrast, wants to enhance the importance of space in the interpretation of the painting, and instead chooses to assign an active role to the gallery space. In order to bring the viewer into a dialogue in which the artwork and the space are equally important, she keeps the exhibition low-key.
The wall painting is an embodiment of Alaräihä’s thoughts about the significance of the place in the interpretation of a painting. Here the colour meets the space in a totally concrete way.
The gallery is interfused with the art work and the art work becomes a part of the gallery. The shapes in the wall painting echo the paintings that she has made on canvas. Thus, the wall painting becomes an image of the exhibition, and hence also an image of itself.
The exhibition makes use of the mechanisms of perception. The character of an individual painting is powerfully affected by the movements the gaze has made earlier in the exhibition. Viewers are constantly re-calibrating their senses and, in so doing, the information and the tone of the works also derive from the passages that open up between the paintings. Thus, Alaräihä creates a complex network that is in constant flux in an apparently static exhibition.