Words by Sofia Järnefelt | English Editor Julie Uusinarkaus | Artworks Erno Enkenberg

We sit in the gallery space. The vernissage will be in the evening some hours from now. He says he is nervous. And yet he speaks calmly and gently, with a soft voice. 

Earlier this fall I dropped by his studio. I saw the yet unfinished paintings and we talked about friendships between men. And superheroism. About biking. About Tarzan. And how friends sync their watches to even have kids at the same time.

Today there is the spacious gallery around us and the completed works are up on the walls. He talks about empathy. How it’s about giving space. That when listening to a friend one doesn’t have to solve the problem. But answer emotions. “Have I mansplaned? Yes. Am I the kind of man I’d ideally would want to be? Not in every way,”Erno says and ponders how important it is to be heard. How it is important to be touched.  And then clarifies, ”This is not about sexuality, but about friendship.”

Friendships between men often involve a hobby. Or an object that is in between. And through it emotions are expressed. When biking together there’s no competition over who goes faster. When biking together the same challenges are met. The enormous slope. The speed feels faster. It’s like motorcycling. But instead of leather jackets they wear skintight clothes. And when two bikers hug they touch each other more. The object is present when peddling. It is needed. But it is only a medium. Not the reason.

There are four things in one of the paintings. Two men. A comb. A towel. They have washed themselves. It’s the mood after sauna. “I took several photos of them,”  Erno says. He tells how the situation felt natural, “I was nervous that they would feel uncomfortable. But they didn’t look like it.”

Miniature models of paper have changed to photographs of real men and spaces. And to 3D models. They work as tools for the paintings. Erno gets excited, ”Games! They’ve become an essential part of our culture. It affects how we view things.” He explains how on the Blender program one can make things that paper doesn’t fold into. How in his antipaintings some fragments are no longer antipainting. The surface is still impermeable. Allthough now it breaths a little. In parts it is lucid.

He wanted to make something slightly provocative. Wanted to experience his works. He wanted to tease a little. Gently poke. Muscles! He wanted to ponder if men could be naturally OK with their physiques when being together. Without it becoming sexual. Dare to undress their machoism. Not competing. Not measuring biceps. Not having to show off. “Here’s the theatre stage. A limited area of reality. Where something special is happening,”he decodes.  He wanted abstract elements. He wanted to express conversation. But not to tell what the men were talking about. He wanted the refulgent colors of the balloons to give some relevance to the discussions. To indicate the nature of the conversations. “They float. The wind blows them slowly to the right. And they fade away.”

We smile. And then I leave. 

Erno Enkenberg, For You, 2019.
Erno Enkenberg, Synchronization, 2019.
Erno Enkenberg, Shared endorfins, 2019.
Erno Enkenberg, Grip, 2019.
Erno Enkenberg, Storyteller, 2019.
Erno Enkenberg, Hug, 2019.


19.10.2019-17.11.2019 Galleria Heino, Uudenmaankatu 16-20 Helsinki