Jane Hughes & Taru Kallio
Someone Else’s Stories
24.07 – 16.08.2020
This exhibition features a series of black and white drawings by Taru Kallio almost floating in the space carefully positioned in dialogue with the pastel palette of Jane Hughes paintings. The artists, playing with scale in comical ways (wall sized – four metres wide – print of Kallio’s tropical landscape drawing and Hughes large format painting of the rider in mid-fall), weave together in a purple-pink candyfloss background to create a surreal collage-like room installation.
Below is an excerpt from an artist conversation about the show.
Taru: I would like to know more about your process of finding the images. I like the idea of wandering in flea markets. I find it much more interesting than going online because the work becomes connected to my body and how I move in my environment. I think it’s especially interesting because we are both living in foreign countries.
Jane: Searching with your hand through shelves is a much more pleasant experience and gentler on the mind than the internet. It leaves more room to ponder slowly about the images you see. Can you tell me about your method of working with the images you find? What do you like about drawing?
T: I started to work with graphite drawings because I wanted to see what happens when I work by copying, in a sort of controlled way. I try to copy the image as it is and in that process I feel I sort of eat and digest the image. By making drawings I can spend some time with the image and it becomes close to my own time. In the process of drawing the image disappears and becomes shapes and tones until it forms again.
J: We discussed early female christian mystics manuscript illustrations and their lives. In one of your drawings there appears to be a religious figure. Could you tell me more about her? And the intention behind the second image with the focus on the mouth?
T: There is a stubborn expression on her face which I found fascinating. I have been interested in female mystics and how they were trying to achieve some kind of freedom in their own lives. One method was controlling their bodies through fasting or vows of silence. While I was drawing I was thinking about control over one-self through the mouth.
J: I think it relates in a way to my painting “Ophelia” where the man appears in a state of shock lying in water. I want to have an image where the male protagonist is more vulnerable. To me it feels like an image of reckoning, a facing of one self. In Elaine Showalter’s Female Malady there are insights into the history between political oppression and mental health, female mental illness was categorised into 3 types; Ophelia – melancholic and suicidal, Crazy Jane – driven over the edge by passion and Cleopatra – angry and violent. I find the delicate nature of care and authority is interesting.
T: I like that idea of vulnerability. I found this book in Germany that shows people receiving treatments in a Kurhaus. These images look unnerving and intimate, for example the drawing of a man sitting in a small pool. It is beautiful the way we can be healed and taken care of by others, this surrendering of yourself to another but it is very exposing.
I was also thinking that my work is a lot about memory and I am interested in how much we invent events that didn’t actually happen or we borrow things from other people’s memories or movies.
In some of your paintings it seems that the image is sort of falling apart. It reminds me of a blurry memory. There is something cinematographic in both of our works. I see my drawings as scenes, it’s about what happens between the frames. In your painting Fall there is a man falling over with his horse. It looks comical but then I realised that there is tragedy about to happen. It also reminds me how we sometimes see others misfortune or even violence as entertainment.
J: I grew up in rural Ireland around equestrian sports, crowds do gather waiting in anticipation for the excitement of a fall at such events. It’s an interesting place to observe group behaviour. I am fascinated by social psychology and popular culture.
T: Yes, and I find that my attraction to working with old photographs and images is a lot about that. It’s about seeing what has been given value, where attention goes and what is left un-pictured and unseen.
Jane Hughes (b.1984 Ireland) lives in Helsinki. She has an MA in Environmental Art, Aalto University in 2012 and her BA Fine Art, National College of Art & Design, Dublin in 2006. Taru Kallio (b.1986 Finland) lives in Norway. She holds an MA in Bergen Academy of Arts, Norway (2017) and BA from Lahti Institute of Fine Art (2011).