Text by Katja Räisänen | Pictures by Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Galerie Anhava | Portrait by Kamila Kurkus

Visual artist Karoliina Hellberg paints interiors, memories and presences. In her fascinating paintings one can escape reality and feel the sensuality of a moment. Working with people from different disciplines is inspiring and natural for Karoliina. “Painting was not a self-evident decision when choosing my studies. I’ve also created spaces and built decors and sets. I have always been fascinated by ideas and themes that can be realized with various media.”

I enter artist Karoliina Hellberg’s home in Helsinki and feel like am stepping into one of her mysterious and flourishing paintings. All those dark, juicy colors and decorative details come to life in the candlelight. As we discuss, it seems like the aesthetic ghosts, which Karoliina has talked about and covered in her dissertation at the Academy of Fine Arts, are present.

Karoliina Hellberg at home, picture by Katja Räisänen
Karoliina Hellberg at home, picture by Katja Räisänen

We talk about the relationship between art and fashion. For Karoliina, working with people from different disciplines is inspiring and natural. She talks about projects with Samu-Jussi Koski, including a short film last year and curating a fashion presentation last spring. This year Karoliina was the one to design the Samuji annual scarf. “It’s very charming to think my work is part of people’s everyday life.”

Karoliina has been keen to jump into various creative collaborations and conveniently used different techniques. “Painting was not a self-evident decision when choosing my studies. I’ve also created spaces and built decors and sets. I have always been fascinated by ideas and themes that can be realized with various media.”

Karoliina Hellberg, Green Sofa at Night, 2016, mixed media on canvas, 140x180cm Photographer: Jussi Tiainen
Karoliina Hellberg, Green Sofa at Night, 2016, mixed media on canvas, 140x180cm, Photographer: Jussi Tiainen

Karoliina elaborates on her themes: “I listed words that describe what I have wanted to capture in my paintings: memory, dreams, presence… and heard Yves Saint Laurent’s farewell speech. He talked about his childhood’s aesthetic ghosts, it’s like aesthetics that goes into your life.“ YSL collected things, beautiful objects that all had their own meaning and story. In Karoliina’s paintings all the elements have their own symbolic meaning, which the artist does not necessarily reveal for anybody. A certain plant can symbolize a person, or a personal memory can be included as a painted vase in a bookshelf. We also talk about the artists Karoliina appreciates – the list is long, but some names come up more often: Mamma Andersson, Henri Matisse, David Hockney and Pierre Bonnard.

Karoliina Hellberg, The Winter Room, 2016, Watercolour and drawing ink on paper, 48x39cm Photographer: Jussi Tiainen
Karoliina Hellberg, The Winter Room, 2016, Watercolour and drawing, ink on paper, 48x39cm, Photographer: Jussi Tiainen

Karoliina has changed Galerie Anhava into a salon, where mysterious memories have been captured inside colorful paintings on canvas and paper. Walking through the exhibition feels like reading an exciting, beautiful story. Karoliina describes a discussion by three ladies in front of one of her paintings in a previous exhibition. They were arguing about plant species in the painting, as if they were looking at physical plants. Some have said her paintings release energy and hope. It’s also easy to relate to the world in her artworks, as place and time are not specific. They are painted now, but they are timeless. In Karoliina’s art one can escape reality and feel the sensuality of a moment.

Portrait by Kamila Kurkus
Portrait by Kamila Kurkus

“Yes, I’m often surprised by the places and ambiences of my paintings. Sometimes they become completely different from what I had originally envisioned”.

 

Karoliina Hellberg, E, Galerie Anhava, Oct 27 – Nov 20, 2016

Upcoming:

Karoliina Hellberg & Benjamin Orlow, The Leisure Class, Pro Artibus, Elverket, Ekenäs, Dec 10, 2016 – Jan, 15, 2017

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