"Getting older is funny. You find yourself doing things that you never thought you would do when you were in your twenties. For me this is exactly what is going on with my painting at the moment. Still life is ok, figurative painting is ok, storytelling is ok… Even though many things have turned upside down on the way, there is still this thing that remains the same: The importance of colours and intensity (of a painting).
I guess this means that whatever the subject or ”style” of your painting is, you still have to face the same problems in your process. You have to find the painting out from the painting – the colours and the intensity."
What is your work process like, what themes do you work with?
I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I think that a good painting (or any work of art) does not need a subject, but a person doing it needs a subject to be able to make it.
I am working with more than one subject at the time almost all the time. There are ideas coming and going and whenever a word or a picture or a subject of any kind has stuck long enough in my head I finally decide to ”paint it out”. The subject for me is like a stimulus that gives me the will to start painting. Something that I know is going to lead me to a good painting but doesn’t necessary include to it. Sometimes I may have a specific vision, a picture that I want to do, but as soon as I start painting it, it doesn’t feel right and I change the idea and make something else. There is no straight road from the idea to a finished painting. It never goes that way.
The recent works on this exhibition are all based on the same idea. I wanted to paint still lifes with reflections. And as we have a vitrine with glass doors at home, it became the base for these paintings. I wanted to go more towards figurative painting. I was interested in this idea where you see the same objects in different way at the same time(”straight” and through a glass) and also where you can see reflections of something that is not in your sight.
An art experience that you remember in particular?
I once quit painting for good. It wasn’t a break, it was more like really quitting and not coming back. I was really happy for this move and I had no hard feelings for anything. My mind was clear and I had other creative things going on and years went by. But I started to feel abit strange. I didn’t know what it was but something was missing. I barely went to any exhibitions and didn’t see much paintings around during the break.Finally, on a random sunny afternoon I was passing by the (old)Amos Anderson museum and somehow decided to go and see a group exhibition that was on the play there. And there I was, standing in front of a huge painting by Stig Baumgartner, shivering and realising that what I was missing in my life was colour. Paint. A physical form of colour on a surface that has no given function.
And as I walked out from the museum the sun was so bright I couldn’t see anything. But the feeling was overwhelming. I needed my studio back. (Funny thing is I don’t remember the painting, I only remember the colour and the paint, it was mostly white with a bright yellow line in the middle. I remember the place where it was installed but have never tried to figure out what piece it actually was).
What are you interested in at the moment?
I am now doing even more figurative paintings than these ones in the exhibition. But then again, I have sketches and ideas for another stuff that is something else, more colour painting and less realism. I wish I can keep my mind open for different approaches and see where things lead me. I don’t want to make too specific frames for my work.
What are you looking forwards to this summer?
We are getting a rescue dog and I can’t wait to see how it changes our life. I hope she will become a great assistant in our studio after settling down. Therefore the summer will be hectic, I think. Hectic, but full of love. :)
Valtteri Kivelä is part of the A Playful Approach home exhibition.