KCCC, Klaipeda, Lithuania
Under Conditions / Henna Aho & Kaija Hinkula


Under Conditions is a duo exhibition by contemporary artists artists Henna Aho & Kaija
Hinkula. Aho and Hinkula examine painting, its new forms and possibilities in the 2020s – the
boundaries, spatiality, materiality, the relationship to one’s own history and to the
surrounding reality. The works that freely stretch the traditional form of a painting comment
on the surrounding world, creating a space, where craftsmanship and every day life and utopia

combine into a process-like whole in the context of extended painting

On the almost-apparent paintings of Henna Aho and Kaija Hinkula

Painting as a medium carries a heavy history with itself. As the most studied but also the most
sold – and probably most produced – art form, a burden, according to many artists and art
historians, has cast itself on the medium. How can one say anything about painting, if so
much has already been made and stated? It is safe to say that painting has reached a kind of
oxymoron: it’s role in museums and text-book examples is solid, but in the infrastructures of
contemporary art it is not always taken as given – it is not too visible. The paradox lies in this
notion of visibility since a change in the reception of painting has become apparent, having
time to spread its roots. It is not, anymore, interesting to recognize something as a painting;
the focus has rather shifted to the medium as an area of artistic operation.

Above stated is the main historical and methodological frame in which Henna Aho’s and
Kaija Hinkula’s new duo exhibition Under the Conditions at KCCC settles. It also the only
settling that takes place in the exhibition, which is constantly in movement. Comprised of new
works from both painters, the movement could be described as a kind of double-
choreography: that of the artists with the space, and of the visitor in the space. This is not to
emphasize a sense theatricality, but to point to the stage-like essence in the way the exhibition
is constructed. There is an active relation to this world in the exhibition, but it operates like a
game with its own set of rules.

What could be the rules, then? The space is the first dimension – concretely and conceptually
– to consider. Tactful and precise attitude towards an exhibition space has been important for
both Aho and Hinkula in their practices and previous exhibitions, but in Under the Conditions
a notion of site-specificity is taken further. The space, as the artists have stated, is the third
agency participating in making the exhibition, and spatial intervention is the main starting
point for Aho and Hinkula. It is still not meaningful to place the works in this exhibition to a
certain category of site-specific art, since different categories of site-specificity –
phenomenological, discursive, or institutional, to name a few – are constantly getting mixed
and blurred. I would rather speak of performative site- and situation-specificity, where
performativity points to a number of directions: conceptualizing the exhibition, building it

with in part materials found in the location, or visitors engaging with the works. Could even
this text be seen as an extension for the question of what site-specific painting is?

The artists engage with the space through the artworks in a multitude of ways. After thinking
about the space, the urgent question, arising from the title of the exhibition, is that of what are
the conditions under which the artists operate. Aho and Hinkula have both experimented at
the borders of painting (un)systematically – one should not argue that they stretch the borders,
since the borders know no limits. For example, ready-made objects, which are a seminal part
of the artists working habitudes, are re-contextualized in the works. This happens by
relocating the ready-made objects to the area of painting, but without them losing their
relation to everyday realm. The usage of ready-made objects in the paintings is taken so far
that it is not clear where the work starts and where it ends. Is the monitor presenting a video
work physically essential part of the work? Or the heater, around which a site-specific
painting is built? In the exhibition even painted colors have a ready-made -character to them,
as they are chosen by color code rather than by mixing or experimenting. The burdensome
history of painting is thus faded, only to emphasize the fact that it is first and foremost
painting that is being considered here.

Still, there is nothing mystical in Under the Conditions. The references to this world are so
direct that it is actually difficult to name them as just references. The works in the exhibition
approach painting as a medium in painterly conditions. The rules applied are, thus, strict and
loose at the same time: working-in and thinking-with painting, moving as far and as close as
possible, and preferably at the same time.

Text by Eero Karjalainen (FI)