Eeva-Leena Eklund is a collector by nature whose art draws its subject matter from everyday events and observations, as well as from collections built up over many years. Her enthusiasm, affection and caring remain untainted by cynicism or calculation and feel fresh, even defiant in this day and age. As when, in the run-up to the exhibition, Eklund wrote down her thoughts in longhand on blue-lined, cream-coloured writing paper: ”All the flowers I love: violet, lily of the valley, anemone, dahlia, gerbera, carnation, hydrangea…” The works in the exhibition too, are like letters or postcards sent from Eklund’s world to our November greyness: Greetings from here!
Eklund seeks, selects and organises small, mundane items (e.g., a pancake that’s been bitten into), discarded objects (a towel found at a flea market) and despised motifs (swans and flower arrangements scorned as kitsch). These are themes that she returns to again and again in her paintings. The zappy lines in her Holiday series ripple from one painting to the next like the Northern Lights or the patterns of a tracksuit whizzing past on the jogging path. The round pizza abstractions are topped with increasingly imaginative and sweeter toppings. Fantasia – not some magical world of the imagination but a cheerful pizza pie with carefully selected toppings of your own choosing – is the word that comes to mind when you examine Eklund’s work.
The artist’s work is like layered candy cane: you don’t tear into it hungrily with your teeth but instead, take your time to savour it. And indeed, Eklund can sometimes work on a piece for years until it comes together (sometimes the practical thing is to extend the canvas by adjoining a new piece with a sewing machine). Oil paint, ink, chalk, acrylic, tempera and spray-paint can coexist happily on a single canvas. Eklund’s signature salon-style hanging, consisting of paintings, photographs and objects, is like an unruly yet purposeful string of associations. A herd of stone cats watches from the floor with eyes wide.
Restrictions or rules, such as conventional display or acceptable motifs, have never really interested Eklund. However, frameworks and symmetry can also inform her work: in the Scarf series, the square shape has provided Eklund with a kind of game board on which to create playful ornamental compositions. The heart shape on the surface of the works is like the pointer on an ouija board, delivering a friendly and sincere message from the other side: Have a nice day!
Eeva-Leena Eklund (b. 1972, Pori) graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2003. She lives and works in Helsinki. Eklund has exhibited her work in many solo and group exhibitions, including SIC Gallery, Galleria Sculptor, and the Oulu and Turku Art Museums. She has work in several major collections, including those of the Helsinki Art Museum, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum and the Finnish State Art Collection. In 2020, Eklund was the first Finnish artist to be invited to create an extensive solo show in the InCollection series by EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art and Saastamoinen Foundation, in which a new artwork is commissioned each year “from a visionary contemporary artist for the foundation’s collection”.