Viewing, seeing, believing what one sees and interpreting it via memory are characteristic human traits. The same thing, person, space or event may appear completely different for subjective reasons – age, the passing of time, one’s state of mind. This happens even when the same person looks at the same thing, not to mention situations including several different viewers.
Seeing can, of course, be measured in various ways, but it is impossible to measure the way seeing is experienced. We have to rely on approximate descriptions when we want to know what and how someone else sees.
The work of a visual artist involves endless trust in the artist and viewer seeing and interpreting what is seen in a sufficiently similar way – for otherwise there would be no point in making visual art – and endless uncertainty about it.
Even when we see the same thing and in fairly similar physical terms, every viewer adds their own history to the work, seeing it through their own life experiences. We cannot see – at least in any organised fashion – that of which we know nothing at all.
Heli Hiltunen’s works, paintings, collages and photographs, are entities of sensory perception and the memory, understanding and replication of seeing. Sometimes she creates large, layered and translucent paintings, drawn and executed with brushwork on canvas, with motifs that are close to landscapes. Sometimes the starting point is a heliogravure from an ancient book, over which Hiltunen paints designs in oil partly covering the original image and partly lending new meanings to it. Occasionally she photographs objects, sometimes the memories of other, unknown people, for instance photo albums from which the photographs have been removed for some reason or other. Sometimes, she makes collages overlaying existing photographs or prints, or prints serigraphic designs on paintings.
Heli Hiltunen thus applies various techniques and approaches in her work, but all her works are combined and linked by viewing, remembering and the aim of creating a joint interface for the artist and the viewer. Her works may be exuberant and succulent or highly reduced, but they all have in common beauty and a yearning for it.
Heli Hiltunen (born 1960) graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 1990 and has since then held solo exhibitions and participated in joint exhibitions both in Finland and abroad. Her works are included in several Finnish and Nordic collections, including the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, HAM Helsinki Art Museum, the Sara Hildén Art Museum and the collections of the Saastamoinen, Wihuri and Niemistö Foundations. Hiltunen was awarded the Ars Fennica Prize in 2001.