Oct 1, 2020
 in 
Interviews

Hanna Kanto

How would you describe yourself as a creator?

I need to admit that I am kind of workaholic. The art making process is so interesting that it is difficult to work less.

What kind of themes do you like to work with in your art?

I have been living and working as an artist in the northern parts of Sweden and Finland until spring 2019 when I moved to Helsinki. The rugged landscape and traditional culture of my northern homeland inspires me. The thematic arc of my art is built upon a concern for the disappearance of a unique cultural environment and rich nature with all its species.

My latest project is based on nature scientific research in Enontekiö, the most northern part of Finnish Lapland. I spent time in Kilpisjärvi by joining the research group BioGeoClimate Modelling Lab while on field work during the summer 2018. Scientists uses modelling methods to understand patterns and processes concerning biogeography, geomorphology, climatology and their interactions. I was observing the work of researches by talking and listening, doing sketches and photographing.

By using modern research equipment and statistical modelling, the researchers observe phenomena which might be invisible for a human eye. The time I spent on the field and results of the phenomena observing has become the core of my latest art practice. My artistic work is based on the objects of the research project, the equipment used in the project and the information gained from the results. The connections between the elements take place at different levels, and the changes in them mutually affect each other. The set hemes emerge repeatedly in my paintings due to the layered character of my artistic practice.

How do you tune into your creative channel and get ideas for your work? 

My working process has often same type of pattern. I am working inside of the theme: reading, having discussions with people, looking at some pictures and making sketches at home. After that I am having a run or a walk in the nature or a swim. The physical activity, where my body is repeating same movement, my brain (pre-set on right frequency) has better possibilities to rest and make space for the flow of the subconscious. Ideas used to appear as ready paintings with shapes, colors and materiality on my mind during the activity. When I go to the studio after this, I start the working by drawing different options of putting the idea into effect. Then slowly I am starting the first layer of the painting. When I paint, the painting used to lead the process. That's why the idea is always changing during the process.

What have been important steps and happenings in your life and artistic path so far?

The idea to move to Kätkäsuvanto (Finnish Lapland, Muonio) for a year and to Kilpisjärvi for another year just to focus on the life in the north and painting from that experience. That time in north has become really meaningful for my artistic work and career. I like the balance between freedom and the political message behind my working. North is part of my identity and by working with these themes that are important to me, gave me another dimension to my work. Another important influence has been my years in Sweden. I was working part time in an art school there. I learned Swedish, which made networking easier. I got to know lot of people who I feel good and easy to work with. With the help of these people, I got really good opportunities to show my works in Sweden. For example Galleri Domeij in Stockholm invited to join them in their gallery 2013. The next important move has been my master studies in Kuva which I started 2019.

Do you have any specific people or artists who have influenced your way of doing and seeing things in life and in your artistry?

For me the spectrum of interesting painter is very wide. I like a lot of very detailed paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Anj Smith. I also love the way of Kieferand Allison Schulnik and Kristy Luck, as well as Hilma af Klint and Anna Zemankova's paintings as windows into psychological spaces which evoke a subconscious understanding of space and objects. There is something same as I see my work: to let the forms in the image slip out of grasp to evoke personal or private mystery.

What would you do if you wouldn't make art?

If I am trying to imagine that, I see myself doing all things which I like to do on my free time: renovating houses, doing pottery with clay, sewing clothes, planting forest, taking care of animals and gardening… so there are other interesting things to do too!

What do you do to relax and unwind?

Doing sport, being in nature and doing different kind of activities there: picking berries and mushrooms, skiing and trekking. Also socialising with my friends and my family and watching some movies is really good way to unwind. Depending on the stage ofthe art making process sometimes it is difficult to relax.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I am now working with KuvanKevät 2020 exhibition which will be 10.10-8.11. After that I will start to work with my next upcoming group exhibition in Sweden at summer 2021.