ENTROTOPIA is an exhibition exchange project between HTS, Helsinki Artists’ Association (Finland) and Publikum.sk (Slovakia). This website is a OPEN platform for artists, curators and the PUBLIC to discuss and share ideas with each others. Project is curated by Ville Laaksonen and Dominika Chrzanová.

Theme ENTROTOPIA is a multi-national approach to discuss the possibilities of artists UTOPIA as a response to DYSTOPIAn state of world. ENTROPY is a force that seems to divide everything, but can it also be an solution that connects us in a new order?

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JUKKA VIRKKUNEN - "Layers after layers." 

Your artistic career started with a study in Brazil. Why did you decide to study art so far away from your home, in very different cultural environment? 

I went to Brazil for the first time in 2004 trough a year long exchange program when I was studying in high school. Later in 2008 I moved to Brazil, started studying graphic design in a Brazilian university and opened a hardware store without any knowledge on how to run a business or what things to sell in a hardware store. I guess moving to Brazil wasn’t a very planned thing, looking in retrospect it was with a lot of naivety that I moved there and did what I did, luckily things turned out well.

What impact did your 3 years long stay in Brazil have on your painting? And what impact it has on your personality and perception of the world? What can Europeans learn in south America? 

Brazil definitely changed me as a person. I moved there when I was 21-years-old and I could say that I became an adult during those 8 years in Brazil. In a way I feel that I’m a person from two different cultures, because I can understand very well the Brazilian culture as well as the Finnish culture. It was in Brazil that I started to paint after a 4 year break in doing art, so the Brazilian art scene and artists were huge influence to be in the early years of my career. I think Europeans could learn to be more relax and enjoy life’s little things from the South Americans. 

4 years after finishing your BA in Brazil you started to study Painting on MA at Royal College of Art in London. What happened between these studies? 

After my BA I had a studio in Brazil for few years, during that time I also owned a hardware store in Brazil and it was in the stores depot that I actually had my studio. Then in 2016 I moved back to Helsinki where I worked in advertising agency and had a  studio.

We can see a big difference in your work over the last year. What influenced you most and why did you decide on simplified painting language?  

The big visual change in my work in the last year was something that I was searching for many years. I’ve always been interested in AbEx and minimalism but I couldn’t quite see how I could transform my artistic practice into that what I was looking for. That’s the biggest reason why I wanted to study painting at the RCA, because the college gives a really good frame and support for exploring new ideas. Looking now in retrospect how my work changed its quite interesting to notice that the ideas that I’m interested stayed the same and that my way to explore the just got more mature.

If we look at your last works we can see painting tendencies of the first half of 20th century. In many ways it reminds us work of Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning etc. Do you refer to their paintings? 

The painters from AbEx movement are the ones I’m probably most interested from all movements in art history. I think I tackle with same issues as Newman, De Kooning, Rothko or Twombly, and you can see reference to their works in my artistic practice. But then also artists like Donald Judd, James Turrell and specially Julie Mehretu from younger artists serve as an influence for me.

What are you trying to say by your work? What mission / purpose does it contain? 

I’ve always been interested in memory and time, and how they appear in painting or any other artwork. I hope a viewer stops in front of my works and sees the marks of human hand that made the piece. In the end a mark of human labour tells us about the time and place that something was made, and always these objects contain a memory.

Could you describe your working process?  

The way I work is very organic and very process based. My studio feels like a living organism where many processes are happening at the same time, the smell of paint is constant in my studio. I work mainly with unstretched canvases and many of the paintings live in the studio for many months or even a year, sometimes being activly worked on and then weeks or months just lying on the studio floor or rolled up in some corner. I like that my paintings collect memories from the studio in form of stains, marks and debris. Usually when I’m about to finish a piece I work on it with more frequently until it reaches a point that I feel that it’s ready. After this point I place the painting in a place in the studio where it won’t collect any more marks from the studio. As the painting process stops the canvas transforms from a living being in constant transformation into a stable state where no more alterations happen.

Where do you think is your work heading? 

I’ve always been working in series and usually working in multiple series at the same time. 

I will continue to explore the themes from my “Twin Poles” series and see where I can take a minimal process based works in painting and video works. My plan is to make few exhibitions with large scale painting and video works with this series and see where it evolves from there. 

With my gestural abstractions I’m curious to do more exploration with physicality and larger scales that would challenge me.


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