Words by Mia Dillemuth | Art Works by Jukka Rusanen | Copy Editor Matthew Jones | Pictures by Jussi Tiainen courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary | Video by Eino Manner, Jukka Rusanen, Mimosa Pale.

Jukka Rusanen’s new Setting exhibition at Helsinki Contemporary is about movement in many ways. In addition to the whim of brush strokes so typical to his paintings, movement now takes place atop some of his texture paved art works. A sudden breath of air shivers the luxurious silk draping making the impression more vivid.

Visual artist Jukka Rusanen’s work often originates from art history references and once again he is taking the viewer on a journey through time. This time around Rusanen found inspiration in the fleshy compositions of Rubens’ The Robbery of the daughters of Leucippus as well as one of Helene Schjerfbeck’s self-portraits. Traces of similarities can be found in the arrangement of shapes and color.

Jukka Rusanen has gone even further in his studies of three-dimensionality. The artist himself stated at the exhibition preview “The starting point for my creative process was spatial. First came the textile collages followed by the paintings.” Breaking the rules of traditional composition in a gallery space is something that has interested Rusanen since his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. “Ever since the beginning of my career, I have had the urge to make art not only to be hung on the wall but wanting it to invade the whole space.”

Jukka Rusanen, Setting, 2016-2017, installation
535 x 230 x 161 cm. Photograph, Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

Rusanen’s choice of working with crochet enabled him to work outside his office – to be more mobile and free. “I’m working all of the time. The pace of the crocheted art making is slower which allows me to be more in the moment. The advantage of working with crochet is that you can go back, fix the errors.”

Jukka Rusanen, Trésor, 2016-2017, silk, canvas, thread, oil colour, painting frame
253 x 180 x 16 cm. Photograph, Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

Setting consists of expressionist paintings, artful objects and oval frames painted and draped in pastel colors, earth tones and crocheted silver lining. The installation places these separate art objects carefully about the gallery floor or leaning against the walls.  All the elements of the exhibition support each other. The negative space in the paintings and the distances between the works also become meaningful. The viewer is surrounded by a poetic and harmonious installation.

An interesting thing about Rusanen’s cropping is that the heads are always missing. In a way, the paintings don’t fit in the frames, which is a spatial matter as well. Rusanen plays with the unfinished effect. He really knows when and where to stop.



Jukka Rusanen, Poetic (Split), 2016-2017, silk, canvas, horsehair, oil colour, painting frame
235 x 180 x 76 cm. Photograph, Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

The artworks are named with specific meanings that add to the experience. One of the oval shaped texture draped artwork Trésor was named after the classic perfume from Lancôme.  Cerulian comes from Latin and means blue sky. Academic and Academic II are titles that point to painting tradition.

Jukka Rusanen, Academic II, 2016, oil and oil pastel on canvas 240 x 190 cm. Photograph, Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.


Jukka Rusanen, Flashback, 2016, oil on canvas 215 x 185 cm. Photograph, Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

Jukka Rusanen’s Setting exhibition works at many levels. A video made in collaboration with Eino Manner and sculptor/performance artist Mimosa Pale is like a prologue. ‘Setting’ is dynamic and moving at the same time and leaves you with a feeling that you have experienced something unforeseen.


Jukka Rusanen: Setting

Jukka Rusanen: Setting