Erik Nieminen • Freefall
Virtual tour (online): Thurs. Oct. 1, 5 pm
Exhibition: October 2 to 24, 2020
Freefall. Like stepping into an abyss, the global community has recently entered into a period of relative freefall, where old answers provide few solutions and new architectures have to be constructed. With the onset of a new framework for living daily life, separated from others due to a pandemic, we question our roles in society – the roles given to us by others or ones that we have crafted for ourselves in order to lend a sense of meaning and urgency to our reality. When these roles are removed or at least sidelined, a sense of disconnect develops. At its core, connection is about empathy, about reaching out to others on a singular one-to-one level. Paintings are empathetic objects that emerge from the isolation of the studio into our world to bridge the gap between our commonplace reality and our thoughts. Though the creatures in my paintings may seem isolated, they are actually a gateway for the viewer to enter into their world. They are an appeal to stay connected to a humanist spirit, in this or any time.
Within urban space can be found artificial escapes, mini-paradises in the form of parks, biodomes, zoos, etc. and we visit these places as a respite from everyday life. Living in tandem with nature was once commonplace but is now a kind of theatrical therapy. I consider painting to be an imaginative and innovative paradisiacal activity allowing for a re-evaluation and reformation of the mundane, where expectations about our real world are engaged with and then transformed into something with renewed potential. This is accomplished not by a one-to-one transcription, but through a process of total reconstruction, of painting in freefall where anything could and might need to happen.
Although my works sometimes appear figurative or even “realist” at first glance, this is not one of my concerns. Starting essentially as a palimpsest of abstract shapes, lines, and colours that collide with one another, my work gradually forms into a semi-coherent yet impossible visual concept. Drawn Lines and geometric shapes are gradually overwritten by structures (a tree, a person) that correspond to our notion of reality, and are selectively taken from the vast quantities of video and photo documentation that I produce. Figurative elements thereby work as alibis for ideas about visual space. Themes such as climate change are of implicit interest. While my work does not engage with the topic of climate change as a form of messaging, I am interested in the societal and cultural impact of such ideas and the conception that man can control nature as such.
Erik Nieminen is Finnish-Canadian artist born in 1985. He achieved a BFA from the University of Ottawa in 2007 and an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal in 2010. He has exhibited in both Europe and North America, including recent solo shows in London, Montreal, and New York City. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Elizabeth Greenshields Grant and in 2018 became the Grand Prize Winner for the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. He currently lives and works in Montreal.