Jorma Hautala’s daily route to his studio passes through a townscape characterized by large red-brick factory buildings with glass-walled offices next to them. Right behind the buildings is the port: the cries of seagulls are mixed with the noise of traffic and the closeness of the sea can be sensed in the amount and quality of the light.

The starting point for a painting can be found along the route, for example in how the side of a building transects the horizontal morning light with shadows marking sharp wedges. A momentary observation grows in the artist’s mind, becoming palm-sized sketches becoming mixed, as the work progresses with recollections of other experiences and other works, by the artist and others.

The drawings are followed by gouaches, in which the colours and composition of the future painting gain more precision. The original observation, the recollections that it arouses and the visual structure required for the work to be successful come together. The final painting on canvas is the termination of one working process. It can also be the beginning of another one. It is a place to pause.

Browsing backwards through Hautala’s art, all the way to the 1970s, one notes its uniform span passing through the decades. He has not taken any sudden turns nor let himself be lured by fashions. He has set his own parameters and progressed within them.

Change in Hautala’s art has implied deliberate progress towards expression that is continually becoming more precise, and at the same time lighter – in Italo Calvino’s words "the lightness of meditativeness", a crystallization from which all cloudiness and heaviness have been honed away.

Because of its consistent nature, Hautala’s oeuvre can also be viewed as a life-long stream, a process in which each individual work becomes part of a broader entity. Many of his works are reflections of other works, sometimes from many years earlier, or the return to some theme that was left unfinished. Who was it who said that an artist works on just one painting all his life?

But it is not easy to name another artist, whose paintings would so different within such a closely defined visual language. Hautala develops a growing number of themes that he often executes as chromatically or compositionally opposite pairs or groups of works. Creative improvisation and explicit planning intermesh in a method that finds comparisons in music, both jazz and classical.

Hautala’s paintings are based on the oppositions of tranquil and open planes of colour, the wedges transecting them and thread-like structures of lines. Closer examination reveals more pairs of opposites, in colours (cold-warm, dark-light etc.) and composition (open-closed, line-surface, central area-margin etc.). The emotional charge radiated by these externally rational paintings arises precisely from the studied combinations pairs of opposite.

Hautala’s paintings do not represent anything beyond themselves; they are purely and uncompromisingly visual. They exist and that is enough. Moreover, they offer a great deal of visual pleasure, i.e. beauty.

While Hautala’s paintings arouse strong (albeit quite "abstract") emotional and sensory experiences, they will also show the observant viewer how those experiences are constructed. Hautala condenses his subjective observations of his own landscape into an art that touches our collective consciousness. His paintings maintain and specify our ability to perceive the world. Or in his words:"… so that it wouldn’t be just the world."

Timo Valjakka