Exhibition evaluation Hannaleena Heiska’s works make time travel to speculative history

The colors referring to contemporary painting bring a new temporal dimension to Hannaleena Heiska’s works.


Hannaleena Heiska: Blazing World 24.10. until Helsinki Contemporary (Bulevardi 10). helsinkicontemporary.com

Margaret Cavendish (1623–1673) was the Duchess and philosopher of Newcastle upon Tyne, whose 1666 The Blazing World novel is called the ancestor of science fiction novels. That, and Virginia Woolfin (1882–1941) traveling through the ages and traversing different gender identities Orlando (1928), has inspired Hannaleena Heiskan a new exhibition Blazing World.

Heiska’s handwriting must be identified. It gives rise to approachably rounded figures: the same softness has been seen in Heiska’s production of facial images as well as in descriptions of architecture, artefacts and animals. Heiska has often painted or drawn her characters in relation to large temporal jumps.

In the painting series Blade Runner (2013) shows the passing of time in a painting imprint that mimics the description of fast flow. This was followed by a series of works on observatories and a set of works on the virtual world and camouflage. In the observatories, buildings reminiscent of concrete brutalism and the shapes of temples led to the reality behind the stars and to looking far beyond our own time.

Also Blazing World the expression goes through great stories. This time, however, the characters seem to be looking at us from their own time instead of trying to catch them in the flow of time.

Hannaleena Heiska: Orlando IV, 2021.

Heiska paints in new works, gender and speculative history. Colors referring to contemporary painting bring a new temporal dimension to the works. Such is, among other things, the sapphire blue curly wig, which bulges fluffy in the work I am the Guardian of the sleeping fawn (2021). There is a different sense of description of the past in the carbon drawing Orlando IV (2021), in which attention is stolen by a regularly arranged, tufted collar alongside free-flowing hair.

The longest time travel Blazing World series is made with pottery-themed works. Pots are early ways of storytelling whose iconography speaks simultaneously of gods and everyday life, people, and utopia.

Hannaleena Heiska: The Blazing World I, 2021.

Painting The Blazing World I The multidimensional blue of the (2021) pot takes you to the shades of the Mediterranean and the underwater world. Dolphins, seahorses and mussels are equated as star-like creatures with those like stars. Like the stars, they are also partners of the gods. Reminiscent of Orlando’s many genders and Cavendish’s early scientific feminism, the dolphin, an animal attached to Aphrodite, whose soft round figure waves on the side of the pot as a sign of life, death, sexuality, and rebirth.


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