Who Made Who, 2022

From September to October 2022 I held a solo exhibition at HAA Gallery, Helsinki. It's been two years since my last exhibition. And as usual, the concept of the exhibition is layered, meaning that it's not "just" my name painted on canvas. Well, that too, but the story does go further than that.

  • Old building on eveningin
    Suomenlinna C1 building
  • Artist holding a framed painting in his hand
    Who Made Who | Installing the exhibition
  • Paintings on the floor
    Who Made Who | Paintings on the floor
  • Paintings on the floor
    Who Made Who | Paintings on the floor
  • View inside an art gallery
    Who Made Who | View on the gallery
  • Four framed paintings on a wall
    Who Made Who | Framed art on the gallery wall
  • Eleven framed paintings on a gallery wall
    Who Made Who | Framed art on the gallery wall
  • 12 paintings on a gallery wall
    Who Made Who | Art on the gallery wall
  • Two smaller and three larger paintings on a gallery wall
    Who Made Who | Dams (smaller paintings) and Bowes (larger three paintings)
  • Ten paintings on a gallery wall
    Who Made Who | Art on the gallery wall
  • Five paintings on a gallery wall
    Who Made Who | Art on the gallery wall
  • Beer bottles on a counter
    Who Made Who | Beers from Olarin Panimo

The most important aspect in graffiti is style, how to differentiate from other practitioners of the field. One needs to be bold, but not too much. Experimenting is a good thing, but only within a strictly limited area. In order to evolve one needs to borrow ideas and be influenced by styles of other artists, but this has to be very subtle. The line between being influenced and copying is a very thin one and one shouldn’t ever cross it intentionally. The only exception to the rule is when more experienced artists teach less experienced ones, helping them on their way to find their own personal style.

This theme and intentionally “blurring” the lines is the very core of the “Who Made Who” exhibition. I started working with this theme since the first corona lockdown in the spring of 2020. When most of the events, exhibitions included, were canceled and everyone had to take care of social distancing, I began to think of ways to somehow cope with this new situation. Self-learning is a very important factor of graffiti culture, so the idea of sharing ideas and learning from each other seemed very reasonable to say the least. And it helped to keep the thoughts off the pandemic.

The way to execute graffiti does seem very monotonic to other people: it is seen as a repetitive and rather boring way of self expression. So it is very hard to comprehend how much graffiti writers actually observe even the tiniest changes and variations in the styles of their own creations as well as the paintings by other writers.

I approached fellow graffiti artists and asked them to draw Acton-sketches, in their own style. In return I drew sketches from their monikers. This forced both parties to step outside their comfort zone and view letters and type design outside their own moniker and letters familiar to themselves. For two years I painted a lot of canvases (and a few walls) based on the huge amount of raw material I received. Some of the results are very true to the original sketches although many of them morphed a lot during the process.

So it is very hard to say who made who and whose style is present at that moment. But in the end, does it really matter?

Olarin Panimo kindly endorsed the beers for the vernissage.

My working for the exhibition was made possible by a special COVID-19 grant for artists and professionals in the culture and creative sectors provided by Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

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View Project

Client: Helsinki Artist's Association

2.10.2022