Born in 1959 at Sulkava, residing and working in Helsinki. Kristiina Uusitalo studied at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts from 1978 to 1982 and completed the degree of Master of Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Art of Temple University, Philadelphia. Awarded the Finnish State Art Prize of 2008. Works in over 20 collections. Altar painting, Tainionkoski Church, Imatra, Finland, 1997. Numerous solo and group exhibitions.

Kristiina Uusitalo began her career as an artist at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. It includes a large number of landscapes, both in Finland and abroad. Her career spans several elements that have evolved over the years towards clarified expression, the precision of light and colour and the ability to become enraptured. She dares to let colours shine and she is a colourist to the greatest degree, even when approaching different shades of grey or the world of black and white. But I would not place her within any ”ism” of art. Kristiina Uusitalo’s approach, addressing the phenomena of the figurative and the abstract, time and place, momentariness and space, has deepened year by year.

The watercolours by Kristiina Uusitalo that are on display are forceful works of art. Although the sensitivity characteristic of watercolour work is present, the main aspect of these paintings is making the immaterial material. They form a visually parallel series to Uusitalo’s oil paintings. It is as if they condense through their size and technique what was previously under a magnifying glass in her large oil paintings. The landscape is now more whole, as it were, though still remaining hidden. These paintings also reveal in an interesting manner the similarities of watercolour and oil painting. When painting in oils on metal or with watercolour on paper, each act is bare. Kristiina Uusitalo’s skilled brushwork is one of the cornerstones of her art.

But what is the artist’s landscape? Since her works present landscapes, they inevitably refer to the tradition of landscape painting and have to take a position regarding it. A landscape by Kristiina Uusitalo’s landscape is not an image of nature or a so-called national landscape. She utilizes landscape as a space in order to make something visible, to depict a moment akin to revelation, to reveal something of beauty to us. These works portray a landscape that is so fantastical that it lies somewhere beyond this physical world, in a world of thoughts, dreams and grand visions. For Kristiina Uusitalo, a painting is always an image of man!

Mikko Oranen
Curator, HAM Helsinki Art Museum

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