When a copper plate is placed in a corrosive solution, a groove is created on the surface. Due to its scale, the resulting indentation may be almost invisible to the eye, but recognizable to the touch. The two-dimensional surface is transformed as three-dimensional shape. When oily printing ink is rubbed into the recesses of the plate, using vigorous pressure and movement, the marks and imprints transferred to the paper can suggest pictorial possibilities.
Laura Vainikka’s exhibition (a)Fantasy is a spatial entity consisting of copper etchings, light, and soot. The ensemble on display in Photographic Gallery Hippolyte is a continuation of Vainikka’s series of solo exhibitions, Amateur Observatory (Amatöörin Observatorio), which started in 2019. Currently on display is the fourth part of the series.
The works in the exhibition deal with seeing and the experience of perception, as well as the topics of light and image. In her works, Vainikka reflects on how the aforementioned themes relate to touch, matter, and physicality.
In Vainikka’s prints, the image plays a minor role in many ways as the working processes are not based on pictorial references. However, the origins of Vainikka’s working methods are tied to the tradition of visual imitation* of traces. With this, the works of the exhibition also approach the theme of reproduction and multiplication associated with photography.
When an origin of view is not present in the work, imagination and recollection play a more influential role. As the gaze wanders over the surface of the paper—in the bumps, grooves, accumulations of pigment—questions can arise about what and how to look or what is seen. At that moment, physical reality and fantasy can collide.
Laura Vainikka (b. 1979) is an artist and printmaker living and working in Tuusula. She works in many fields, but printmaking methods play a central role. She is particularly interested in the various materials related to printing techniques and their physical processes. Vainikka’s works are often marked by photographic echoes, although she mainly works without lens-based methods.
Vainikka graduated with a master’s degree in visual arts from the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, in 2013. Her works have been exhibited in several solo exhibitions in Finland, e.g. At HAA Gallery, Galleria KONE, and in group exhibitions, e.g. Nuoret 2011 at Taidehalli and Nordic Contemporary Print Triennial in Sweden. In addition, Vainikka’s works are included, e.g. in the collections of the State of Finland and the art museums of Pori and Jyväskylä. Vainikka has been involved in writing the first art theory publication in Finnish, Siirtymisen ja välittymisen taide (edit. Päivikki Kallio)—in which she writes about her working process and reflects on the criticism of oculacentric culture concerning printing methods.
The artist’s work and the exhibition have been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
* The aquatint technique used in the works is an etching method that was originally developed to imitate painterly gestures and to create tonal effects in intaglio prints. The dot structure appearing in the aquatint tile corresponds to the structure of the raster film. It also approaches the aesthetics of a grainy film image.
25 November–18 December 2022
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
image: Laura Vainikka