The Potential of Night

Four You Gallery
November 4th, 2020
| Harriet Abbott

I am unsurprised to learn that artist Heidi Ukkonen has a tendency to create at dusk, when her most stimulating ideas arise. Presumably, she continues on into the night, working towards her slumber. It is suggested that the period before one drops off into such slumber holds the most creative potential in our minds. A flood of philosophies occurs in the fusing unification of previously unconnected brain cells: a process that ensues relaxation or drowsiness. Often these bodily conditions are temporal, a state of being – between, withdrawn, yet conscious. Surrealism unifies conscious and unconscious realms of experience. One would imagine that the profundity of night hosts both processes of unification or re- unification.
Heidi Ukkonen interrogates the unconscious: a realm that is untapped by many. The rich outcome of these indulgent nightly explorations is Four You Gallery’s ‘Hide & Seek:’ an exhibition of Surrealist acrylic and airbrush paintings. Although her artworks exist within the abstract and make little rational sense, the viewer is confronted with a world that is completely defined. Night, the host creator of the beginnings of these paintings, is a place in which the mind journeys and yet a place that appears indefinitely. For Ukkonen, it seems a place that continuously defers the rational, pushing towards ambiguity.

Nowhere, 2020-Egg-tempera acrylics and airbrush on linen-130 x 190 cm

‘Nowhere’ is a 130x190cm tempera acrylic and airbrush painting on linen. This artwork speaks to some of the Surrealist characteristics previously outlined. Each element of the work is recognizable, whether that is through its form, colour or action. Yet, Ukkonen has entirely removed her subjects from their normal everyday contexts, and reconfigured them within a paradoxical framework. Invocative of a psychic response, I read the painting as an illustration of an impending transferal from ‘nowhere.’ Despite the current of the wind or the water, the artwork feels still. The subjects appear stuck in some manifestation of purgatory, anticipating the arrival of a facilitator. I fear, however, that the subjects have already reached their fate.
Light governs everything. With dusk comes a transitional shift in light, darkness is the terminus. Objects and vision are resultantly obscured; the visual experience is reframed as an experience of unconscious contemplation and overcomes. The night sky is something into which one can see through the knowable into something that is far away, something that has no shape or boundary and through which we can plunge without stop. Stop. This limit or endpoint (night) is fortunately not one of perpetuity.

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