Images Guided by Emotion
He digs it out of himself when he creates his sensuous, colourful images. Pours from the inexhaustible well of inner life. Most paintings lack a title so as not to prejudge interpretation.
Because Kimmo Hakonen hopes that the viewer shall recognise his or her own life by discerning his in the images. Then I have approached the goal.
He talks about his creation with a glow that really burns.
The first time I held the brush in my hand I realised that I had done this my entire life; I had found my home. Here was the engine, the core to everything, says Kimmo Hakonen about the day a couple of years ago when he took the step and began to explore painting.
Having completed 96 percent of an engineering degree he sat in a cubicle at Volvo working on his degree project. And realised he was at the wrong place. He followed intuition, spent a year at the KV art school and was then admitted to Hovedskou’s painting program. Today he is 35 years old and makes his living as an artist and designer. Kimmo Hakonen is living close to his emotions, which are the source of the images.
-As soon as emotions come in something changes.
His emotions pours out over the canvas. The clear colours exhibit his inside.
When one digs in the mud at the bottom, down there at the core, the personal becomes universal. We are after all very similar at that level, he says.
Creation becomes at the same time an exploration of the personal emotions.
Clues are followed, questions are sorted out, and I can discover things in the remote past.
Hakonen does not believe in passively waiting for inspiration.
No, that is something one has to earn through work, he says and talks about the worlds he creates on the generous canvases.
I have reached the goal if someone finds his or her own world through mine.
For some reason the conversation comes to concern bicycles and ends up being about bicycle riding as a way of enjoying the present. That the goal is not the most important thing, but the journey. –Everything is supposed to be so efficient and perfect in contemporary society. We ought to think more about emotions and about feeling well. Says an artist who creates emotional images.
New ST, October 29, 1997
An Abundance of Colour and Expression
A big Finn who creates big paintings. That’s Kimmo Hakonen, who currently exhibits his work at Stadshuskuben in Falkenberg. He is born in 1962 and has lived in Göteborg since the age of 5. There he has gone to KV art school and Hovedskou’s painting program. This exhibit includes a number of large canvases, a few drawings in pen, ink and chalk and a few sculptures.
Kimmo Hakonen looks both inwards and outwards in his art. He works from emotions, memories, fragments and fragrances. Associations flow, he doesn’t quite know where he will end up when he begins. For me painting is like a psychoanalytic process, it is a way of working on emotions and events both present and past. The core of my painting is colour, the various shades describe what I want to portray, says Kimmo. Does that sound deterring? The fact is that the gigantic oils at first sight can seem like a confused concoction of colours, put on the canvas in some sort of fury. But if one looks for a while they exhibit a harmony, as of something completed. The artist knows that he is done, he has reached peace. The large format suits Kimmo Hakonen. He has tried to produce smaller paintings but it is hard. His emotions are of that size and they can’t be compressed into a format that would fit over Auntie’s dresser. But in this exhibits it works very well. The gaze outward, into the big world, one finds with Kimmo’s sculptures and to a certain extent in the drawings. Two small terracotta sculptures and a larger female figure in the original technique with prestressed concrete exhibit both strength and tendernes. And a fine eye for anatomy and motion.
Two different aspects
While the oil paintings display an abundance of colour and expression, the drawings have a somewhat compact and closed tone. Two aspects of a soul, perhaps, which find different expressions. Amidst the introvertedness of Kimmo Hakonen one also finds a strong desire to communicate and give to others what he has cretaed. He compares the artist to a Tibetan monk who contributes a spiritual dimension to people’s everyday lives and is provided with food and drinks in exchange. Kimmo contributes and what he receives in exchange remains to be seen.
Hallands Nyheter, May 23 1995
Language From the Innermost and From Far Away
Paintings with a powerfully expressive tone, high in colours, unruly in form. Such is Kimmo Hakonen’s art. Bewildering sheet metal constructions, somewhere in between function and fiction, twisted tubes and something that might have been an exhaust pipe and yet not; thus one thinks about Isabelle Federkeil’s sculptures.
The two of them are exciting contrasts at Konstforum right now, especially interesting to compare.
What we choose to call unruly is found with both, here there is a material to master, a life to conquer. Strong forces pull in one direction, the artists grab the most peevish and we witness the fights that have produced results.
It feels very fresh and hopeful, encouraging.
Kimmo Hakonen is from Pori, Finland but works in Göteborg. Last time we saw him in Norrköping was last year, at the Labour Museum, in the artistic furniture project. He is a controlled “wild animal”, sensual and with the effect that [[automatisk skrift (???) automatic script?]] wants to reach. He also speaks less heatedly in a series of black and white pictures.
Folkbladet Norrköping, November 14
Painting and object
Colourful Paintings and Funnels of Sheet Metal
Kimmo Hakonen’ art is in many cases just as colourful as the introductory music. Large canvases in oil and acrylic display an abundance of colour in an abstract, suggestive, dream-like art.
Sparkling, almost explosive paintings where red and orange has been applied with broad, restless motions. It is a feeling, a state, a dreamlike existence which is suggested and here there is only a faint intimation of human life.
In smaller formate Kimmo Hakonen paints in black, white and gray. These paintings exude disaster. Destruction and the threat of devastation is insinuated. Outlined figures in demolished landscapes tell stories of tragedy.
Nonverbal communication is the name of a series of [[serigrafler ???]] in grey, and here abstraction is not pursued as far. Details are detectable but it is hard to analyse the context. Here the foreboding atmosphere is also somewhat less dense even if the domesday prophet with his arms spread out appears intimidating.
Norrköpings Tidningar, November 12, 1997
The Meeting of Opposites
The huge, peculiar space is exploited succesfully, the high ceilings, the dim light and the ruggedness are intertwined with the works of art and become important components of the overall picture.
At first sight, Hakonen’s paintings almost seem to fuse with the graffiti of the walls, even though the paintings are hung in the middle of the room.
Cascades of colour is definitely the right phrase, hans images are fireworks in sharp, pure colours. The playfulness and the dramatic ideas are essential elements as is the quick motion, the pace. A mass of forms and figures appear to be born in the brushstroke itself; insects and human animals in fragmented landscapes and situations. There isn’t much of strict composition or planning behing these images. Instead each painting appears to have evolved intuitively during the course of the work and depicts a unique, autonomous world. Often both beautiful and cohesive, even if some sequences still appear unfinished.
Simultaneously Hakonen exhibits some work at Galleri Bergman. The paintings are similar but smaller in format and not as monumental or in the same way a part of the room.
Göteborgs Tidningen, January 1997
Calm Graphite Grey Meets Wild Colours
The old boiler room by Red Stone has rather unique qualities which can be used effectively for exhibiting art. It’s not the just the vast spaces and sanctified character that can be played with and against; it’s also the graffiti left behind from the days when the old building was heading for demolition. We have seen it before, but it is especially striking now that Kimmo Hakonen and Britt Ignell has a joint exhibit, installation.
In the middle of the dark room Kimmo Hakonen exhibits large paintings illuminated by searchlights. In the background one dimly discerns the raw colours and forms of graffiti. Hakonen uses almost the same, tough language of colour and form and hence there arises a dialogue of sorts between the wall paintings and the works of art. It’s a raw primitive exchange with a grammar and syntax different from what we are used to in subdued art galleries and museums.
Even though Kimmo Hakonen is from Björneborg, Finland, and is educated in Göteborg at Hovedskou, his painting is more German than Nordic. He has a stronger kinship with the once wild in Berlin than the descendants of the northern light. He paints in a postmodern expressionism with a set of symbols that are uniquely his and hard to interpret. Supposedly they are meant to be more felt than understood.
As an absolute contrast to all this wildness in Hakonen’s and the anonymous paintings on the walls stand Britt Ignell’s sculptures. Her pieces come out through a skillful, soft application of light, as if they had come in floating. They are just there like a domain of stillness in the middle of all motion. The contrast is emphsised by the fact that her pieces are very colourless, a sort of graphite grey. In the center one sees a classical, simple bust and around it she has placed sophisticated abstract shapes. Since Ignell’s sculptures are asymmetrically placed in the room they don’t become the eye of the storm around which wildness dances, but rather a counterpoint near the peripheri. It makes up a skillfully and dynamically created whole. A muted drama, which almost (but only almost) is theatrical.
How important the context and staging is to art one can experience if one visits the separate parallel exhibit of Kimmo Hakonen at Galleri Bergman. Here, in intense lightning and without the interaction with a surrounding space, his painting loses a lot of its force. Then the titles mean a lot more, they even become necessary to reach a contact with his painting. Hakonen’s pieces are of course not of lower quality than what he exhibits in the boiler room, but the difference one experiences emphasises the importance of the staging.
Göteborgs-Posten, January 20, 1997
Bodily and Real Poetry
You can literally view and read poetry at Galleri Bergman where the artist Kimmo Hakonen and the poet Per Gunnar Kramer has en joint exhibit. A series of texts are posted on the walls. They are short texts in black on shining steel plates. The plates stand in stark contrast to Hakonen’s graphic prints, which are dream images but without the hard edges and glidings over forbidden landscapes characteristic of surrealism. Hakonen’s dreams are soft and poetic, which is emphasised by the bright colours. There is a surprising parallelism between Kramer’s texts and Hakonen’s images even though they are produced separately and independently of one another. It just happens that they have the same attitude and happened to meet. The words don’t explain the images and the images don’t explicate the words. They just are there simultaneously in the same room. Hakonen’s art is not extraordinary and neither is Kramer’s poetry, but together they make up a functioning whole.
Göteborgs-Posten January 18, 1998
Open letter to Ingrid Elam and Crispin Ahlström
My name is Kimmo Hakonen. Together with Per-Gunnar Kramer I currently exhibit my art at Galleri Bergman. When I heard that you had paid a visit to the exhibit I was pleased. But when later I read your review in the Göteborgsposten, I was disappointed and realised that only your body had been there; you had forgotten to bring your soul. Because your statement was thinner than water. No fish, no plants, nothing living; just a little sand at the bottom. Göteborgs-Posten is a major newspaper in the second largest city in Sweden, not a provincial newspaper with limited resources and where only a limited number of people want to work. A review is more than a purely physical description; it requires something more. A review at its best contains an analysis of content, description and personal judgment. In a good review, the material has been filtered through the reviewer’s own knowledge, experience and emotion. The purpose of art sections is supposedly to relate, debate and judge about the deeper aspects of humanity, the spectrum of emotions and thoughts that humans have. Presumably they are forums for things other than mere entertainment, amusement and excitement. What I want to say is that a deepening of art criticism is a good way to enhance understanding for other human expressions. It is about taking one’s own as well as others’ emotions and creativity seriously. It’s not a game; it’s about surviving mentally as a human being.
In conclusion I want to say that anyone has the capacity to just describe something without filtering it through personal experiences and emotions. It’s not sufficient to shoot from the hip; something more is required to make it good; it takes passion, involvement and blood. I am open to constructive criticism, negative as well as positive – things that can stimulate thinking. It is the sloppiness and laziness which I find in your article that I’m reacting against. I am happy to invite Göteborgs-Posten to my future exhibits, but if the content is going to be at this level I don’t see that it matters.
Göteborg, January 20, 1998
Fireworks of Emotions in Colourful Paintings
Kimmo Hakonen is a Göteborg artist who produces large expressive paintings. It is more emotion than intellect behind the cascades of colour.
Kimmo Hakonen was born in Finland in the early 60’s. He got his education in Sweden. He went to KV art school and Hovedskou in Göteborg, where he lives and works.
His had his first own exhibit in Halland in 1995, where he exhibited his art at Stadshuskuben in Falkenberg.
During the next few weeks he exhibits paintings and graphic prints at Folkets Hus in Varberg.
The large oil paintings are suggestive colour explosions. His painting is associative and emotional and creates a dream-like symbolic world whose codes probably only he himself knows. Against these large emotions on canvas stand his small acrylic paintings in foreboding greys. Here the topic is destruction and fateful omens.
In his graphic prints too, he works interchangeably in colour and black and white. But the prints differ from the paintings in being more depictive, more neat. In his prints, Kimmo Hakonen seems to tame his otherwise explosive emotions and the sweeping brush strokes are replaced by fine lines.
Hallands Nyheter, February 16, 1998
On the Territories of Irrationality
At Galleri Bachus awaits a meeting with a painter who turns his back on realism of any kind. Kimmo Hakonen lets go of all moorings and dives head first into the depths of the unconscious. With powerful colour effects and primitive signs he attacks the canvas with in a snorting vitality that approaches the spontaneous expressionism of the Cobra group.
His real art education Hakonen began as late as the early 90’s, after having discontinued his almost completed studies in civil engineering at Chalmers. That meant a radical turn which he experienced as a liberation, an opening toward his inner self. The irrational, unstructured poured out in the intuitive language of the paintings, balansing on the edge between abstract intimations and figurative narration.
Hakonen himself talks enthusiastically of his painting as “a swim like the dolphin’s in the sea of emotion”, and perhaps it is that analogy that makes me see the tail of a dolphin appear as a life affirming, clear red exclamation mark in a sea of shining yellow and green in the painting “Eftertanke” [eng. “Reflection”].
But at the same time I sense a duality; this and several other paintings present forms that lead one’s thoughts to technical constructions. Isn’t that a rail which reaches with determinate precision all the way to the dramatic stopping point by the dolphin’s descent, and the screw nut-looking form that recurs so often in the images looks very much like those keys that one uses to put mechanical toys in motion…
In the midst of all the spontaneity the structure is there, despite everything, most evident in the magnificently dramatic black and white composition in pen and ink on acquarell paper, which catches the eye in the back of the gallery. As if on a stage with a lot of depth the figures show up in groups in a dream-like drama, drawn with a careful hand. The unconscious has reached the surface without losing its suggestive power.
Borås Tidning, January 19, 1998
The painter Kimmo Hakonen does not shy away from grandiose expression. He boldly approaches canvases two by two meters and applies the paint with brush, cloth or directly with the hands when necessary.
The contact with the colour is immediate and he is absorbed in the process of painting to the degree that the outside world disappears and the unconscious takes over. Only afterwards can he start to reflect on the work and see what it is really about.
The bold and spontaneous approach is also what first dominates the impression of the large paintings he exhibits at Galleri Bacchus. But if one lingers on them, preferably at a distance, one soon notices that it is not just a question of an immediate expressionistic explosion, but also a very deliberate use of the elements of colour and form.
The painting “Viskningen” [eng. “The whisper”], which hangs in the far back of the gallery, has a spatial form that invites the viewer to enter a landscape of shadows and dawns, varying from warm red and brown over green in varying nuances to a cold yellow. It may be the shadow under a big tree which creates a snug and welcoming cave.
“A View From a Point Under the Bed” has a darker tone and gives more of an impression of an urban landscape where beautifully mellow sections of harmonising colours are countered by a dramatic movement in the middle of the picture. The somewhat cryptic title stems from a childhood memory, perhaps of abandonment or fear of darkness.
In a series of paintings in colour and black-and-white, produced by a mixture of oil pastels and acrylic, he shows that he can also create well-functioning compositions by simple means in a smaller format.
Borås Tidning, November 13, 1995