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July 26 to August 23, 2014

In Gallery 1+2

Valpuri Kylmanen and Ari Pelkonen

curated by Jamilee Polson Lacy


Helsingistä is partially supported by grants from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Frame Visual Art Finland.


For images and more information, please contact
Scott Speh: (312) 480-8390 |

Valpuri Kylmänen No parking from here to corner, 2012
Hand-inked lithograph, 27 x 38 inches

Western Exhibitions is pleased to present Helsingistä, a two-person exhibition and featuring the work of Helsinki-based artists Valpuri Kylmänen and Ari Pelkonen, curated by Jamilee Polson Lacy. This exhibition is the first in-depth presentation of the artists’ work in the United States. Helsingistä opens on Friday, July 25 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm and runs through August 30, 2014. Gallery hours are typically Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm, though for most of August, the gallery will be open sporadically or by appointment. Please call ahead.

Helsingistä focuses on Kylmänen and Pelkonen’s ongoing experimentation with printmaking traditions, collaborative processes and gestural renderings of life. Kylmänen will display the latest series of her signature lithographic prints, in which bizarrely staged and slightly abstracted still life tableaus figure prominently. Pelkonen will include a small body of work which includes his most recent “woodcut paintings”—woodcut printing on canvas combined with layers of acrylic paint—of eerily cropped and abstracted human figures alongside a new video work. Having been instrumental to one another’s practices as both traditional printmakers and experimental fine artists for over a decade, the two artists will honor their cooperative history with the unveiling of their first fully collaborative artwork: a set of tonal printed wallpapers, which will serve as a dramatic backdrop for the exhibition’s entire installation.

Helsingistä is jointly supported by Western Exhibitions, Twelve Galleries Project, the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, and Frame Visual Art Finland.

Valpuri Kylmänen’s lithographs depict objects and scenes that are visualizations of outrageous word combinations sourced from quirky, everyday conversations—phrases like spaghetti and pizza in the bathtub; violent violets; pushing the cushion; no parking from here to corner and so on are translated into beautifully silly still lifes. Further demonstrating the human folly and everyday comedy that inspires her work, the artist messily draws and handprints each artwork, using whimsical pastel color palettes on lightly tinted papers.

Kylmänen (b. 1980, Rovaniemi, Finland) is an artist, educator and master printer living and working in Helsinki, where she co-owns and operates Helsinki Litho, an internationally renowned fine art lithography workshop. Her lithographs and installations are included in numerous museum and private collections, and have been shown throughout Finland, the EU and Southeast Asia. Kylmanen holds a MFA from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts and trained as a master printer at the Tamarind Institute for Fine Art Lithography.

Ari Pelkonen works with mix of traditional printmaking and abstract painting. He continues to explore this technical and aesthetic cross-looming, which he calls “woodcut painting,” in order to find the middle ground between the spontaneity of gestural abstraction and the slow, methodical tendencies of printmaking. As a result of the dissonance between such techniques, Pelkonen’s portraits of the human body are quite melancholic and, at times, haunting.

Pelkonen (b. 1978, Pori, Finland) is an artist and educator living and working in Helsinki. His cross-disciplinary artwork is included in numerous museum and private collections, and has been shown throughout Finland, the EU and Japan. In 2012, upon being named the Finnish Young Artist of the Year by the City of Tampere, the Tampere Art Museum published a catalog raisonne and presented an eponymously titled retrospective exhibition of his work at the Tampere Art Museum. Pelkonen holds a MFA from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts.

Jamilee Polson Lacy lives in Chicago and Providence and works as a writer, a curator and the founding director of Twelve Galleries Project. Currently, Lacy is director and curator of Providence College Galleries, managing editor for the Bad at Sports blog, and co-author (with Meg Onli) of Remaking the Black Metropolis: Contemporary Art, Urbanity and Blackness in America, a research survey and archive. She has engaged in solo and collaborative projects with A+D Gallery at Columbia College Chicago, The Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Hyde Park Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Sister Cities of Chicago and Western Exhibitions, among others. In addition to numerous catalogue essays, interviews and articles, Lacy has published Color: Fully Engaged, a book of interviews and essays on contemporary art and color and rises Zora: An Exploration of the Urban Labyrinth, which details Kansas City and its artists as adventurous partners. She has also written for Flash Art, Umelec Magazine, Art 21 Online and Art in America Online. Lacy holds two undergraduate degrees in art history and studio arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Masters of Comparative Art and Literature from Northwestern University.

Valpuri Kylmänen
Hair air drying
Hand-inked lithograph
34 x 23 inches


Valpuri Kylmänen
Italian Tile
Hand-inked lithograph
27 x 38 inches

Valpuri Kylmänen
Violent, violet, vent
Hand-inked lithograph
34 x 23 inches

Ari Pelkonen
Man, 2014
Woodcut and acrylic on canvas
38 x 46 inches

Ari Pelkonen
Woodcut and acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches

Ari Pelkonen
Back Of Your Hands
Woodcut and acrylic on canvas
30 x 23 inches

Ari Pelkonen
Remain (still)
HD video
2-minute loop