With inspiration from the fashion world and today’s digital media, Hiltunen (b. 1981) creates large-scale portraits in expressive colors. She refers to the aesthetics of fashion photography, music videos, social media and selfies. Some of her models gaze straight at us with a self-conscious, bold look, as if posing before a mirror or taking a selfie, others stand with their backs to us, facing the other way. Painted with vivid brush strokes, the surroundings are as colorful as the models’ clothes. It is an active choice to paint in this large, monumental format, to let the women take up space, in contrast to a historical tradition where male portraits were large and female portraits mostly smaller. Hiltunen’s portraits mirror female individuals and a feminine expression, with both seriousness and playfulness.
Hiltunen sees contemporary society as a performative culture and questions the constant sharing of a visual and virtual version of ourselves in social media. A selfie can be interpreted as a narcissistic expression, but also as a wish to belong to a larger context. It is about identity and affirmation, topics that have been fundamental both to the history of portraits in Western society and to the status of being portrayed. Hiltunen’s artworks embody a media hype that unfolds in the digital society of today, where everyone wants to be seen, but is simultaneously both a consumer and a producer. The subject is an object, as well as an observer.
Hiltunen graduated from the Turku Arts Academy, Finland in 2004 and the Academy of Fine Arts, Finland, in 2007. In recent years, she has held several solo exhibitions and has participated in group exhibitions at, for example, Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland, and Rox Gallery, New York, USA. In March 2017, she was exhibited at the Market Art Fair, Stockholm, Sweden. Her work is represented in the Finnish State Art Collection, Finland and in private collections. She also combines painting with video and has participated in international film festivals with her artistic films. This is the first exhibition by Hiltunen at Galerie Forsblom in Stockholm.