Jani Hänninen (born 1974) has come a long way from a wild graffiti artist on the wrong side of the law to a painter trained at the Free Art School and the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. His paintings still have the appearance of spontaneity and of having been created suddenly, and the viewer may well imagine that they are based on deep, suddenly felt emotions, and a technique that is just as quick.
In reality, Jani Hänninen plans, chooses and considers things carefully. He composes and knows what he wants to express, seeking the best possible way to do so. He paints, reflects and paints again. That’s how all the best ones do it, the ones that we think are completely spontaneous. Mutatis mutandis, Hemingway’s advice applies here – to rewrite so many times that it looks easy.
Hänninen draws upon different sources for motifs of his paintings: the press, television, the Internet, music and the street. A single impulse, of whatever kind, can launch series of associations that gradually transform into colour and forms on canvas.
Over the past few years, Hänninen’s manner of painting has become abstract. His works still contain familiar signs, fragments of figures, letters and numbers, but their structure is even more closely considered than previously. Jani Hänninen’s works are mixtures of the visual idiom of the street and the classic virtues of painting. They are rich, succulent and strong, of sinewy composition and precise expression.