Interview by Antonia Hamberg | Intro Mia Dillemuth | English Editor Julie Uusinarkaus | Photograph by Patrik Rastenberger, courtesy of Kunsthalle Helsinki

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Young Artists exhibition, which had its debut at Kunsthalle Helsinki in 1939. The significance of art has by no means decreased over the years; on the contrary, different genres of art are finding new audiences through digital platforms and social media.

The Young Artists 2019 exhibition is co-produced by the Artists’ Association of Finland and Kunsthalle Helsinki. The presented ensemble is an interesting cross-section of young contemporary artists, many of whom simultaneously work across a range of different mediums and techniques.

Around Journal presents a series of interviews of some of the artists exhibited at Kunsthalle, starting with visual artist Astrid Strömberg and her work The Originals.

Helsinki-based and raised 28-year old visual artist Astrid Strömberg immerses her work with outtakes of things she perceives around her that depict a place that she exists in, concretely or emotionally. These observations are usually worked into a set of paintings, or an installation, that create an entity. How the absurd or fantastic can sometimes be more real than reality and what is the obscurity between uncertainty and certainty are reoccurring topics in her work, and she uses popular culture as points of reference, jumping between different sources to make her own connections.

Stömberg’s work process is marked by a measure of obsession over something that has caught her attention somewhere – on Netflix, on social media or in a book. The pictures, mental or actual pictures, tend to stay with her for a long period, blurring the line between reality and fiction: “How that fixation shows in my work could be through repetitiveness or through a drive towards perfection. I often repeat something many times – it can be the size of the canvas, an image, a shape or a colour. I find the pulse of the work through echoing something that I get from playing around with the meaning and place of the reference.”

In the Young Artists 2019 exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki Astrid Stömberg shows her work The Originals, which consists of three oil paintings repeating the same image: “I would describe the piece to be an attempt to play around with a creature that existed before, during or after us. But also to explore the feeling of generic appearances that we get through filters and maybe how that surface starts to be more real than the actuality.” Before starting to work on the paintings, Astrid binged watched the Netfilix series Dark-net, in which a scene where a chip gets inserted in a woman’s arm caught her attention. The picture of the actual incision – the shape of the cut, her smile when she begins to communicate with her devices, the idea of having another self – became a fixation. Thus, although the work is not about the TV series, the scene and story very much set the mood in her studio when she worked on The Originals

In addition to the Young Artists 2019 exhibition, the first part of Astrid’s master’s thesis work exhibition will be shown at Project Room from March 29 to April 14, 2019. The second part of the work will be shown at Kuvan Kevät from May 4 to June 2, 2019. The name of the exhibition is Non – Sense and consists of an installed painting. The work is meant to be read as one painting even while it will consist of many parts, both oil on canvas and three-dimensional objects. In Non – Sense, she is working with images and feelings of the uncertainty of meaning. With this work, she hopes to create a feeling of confusion, and perhaps also annoyance with the work through some kind of excess in the visual aspect. 

Young Artists 2019 exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki from the 30th of March until the 26th of May.

The exhibition is based on an open call, with a shortlist of 25 artists and one artist group selected for this year’s show out of a total of 500 applications. The four-member jury chaired by artist Jaana Kokko consisted of Kunsthalle Senior Curator Kiira Miesmaa and student representatives Aleksandra Kiskonen from Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and Miia Varis from the Turku Arts Academy.

All the artists featured this year are Elina Autio, Siiri Haarla, Jussi Haro, Venla Helenius & Anna-Sofia Nylund, Maiju Hukkanen, Hermanni Keko, Nadiye Koçak, Komugi Ando, Sini Kähönen, Arja Kärkkäinen, Jenni Luhta, Anna Matveinen, Aro Mielonen, Milja-Liina Moilanen, Anne Naukkarinen, Rosaliina Paavilainen, Leena Pukki, Eeva-Maija Pulkkinen, Salome Rajanti, Mira Roivainen, Raimo Saarinen, Kristina Sedlerova, Astrid Strömberg, Pekko Vasantola, Maria Viirros and Niina Villanueva.