Merja Keskinen - Imagined Fabrics
Craft Museum of Finland, FI
09.09. - 03.12.2023

Merja Keskinen - Imagined Fabrics<br>Craft Museum of Finland<br>FI 09.09. - 03.12.2023

Merja Keskinen, Broken Colors, 2022, 122 x 154 cm, Photo: Johnny Korkman

The optical blending of colours is evident in the textile artworks of artist professor Merja Keskinen, as thousands of shades of colours play together. With subtle changes in thread colours, the artworks come to life with an abundance of tones and surface rhythm.

The title of the exhibition, "Imagined Fabrics," refers to the textile artist's working process. Keskinen is fascinated by unpredictability. Combining different-coloured threads according to a chosen system brings forth captivating colour combinations that are challenging to name or envision in advance.

- I work to see. The joy of discovery and the delight of experiencing colours are essential to me. The unpredictability and always-surprising colour tones captivate me. I interpret life and the surrounding world with colours and explore the factors that influence colour perception, describes textile artist Merja Keskinen her artistic process.

As Keskinen begins the creation of a piece, a plan takes shape in her imagination of the finished artwork. As the work progresses, the work starts to come together, piece by piece. The final form of the artwork and the effectiveness of the initial colour choices are confirmed after extensive work.

 - My works are based on interpretations of colours. I play with tones and their nuances. My works, representing contemporary textile art, rely on colour-theoretical considerations and examination of the factors that influence colour perception. In my pieces, I explore changes in colour tones, darkness, and purity. I examine the juxtaposition of colours and the images they evoke.

Keskinen's artworks consist of several differently coloured parts, and it is only with the completion of all the parts that the artwork takes on its final form. There are numerous possibilities for assembling and arranging hundreds of differently coloured sections into an artwork. The arrangement of the parts into the form of the artwork is the most fascinating phase of the process.

 - The impressions and changes created by colours are based on mathematical reflections and a systematic approach to work. The colour tones of my artworks are formed by combinations of threads. I combine colours and threads according to a preselected system. In the parts of the artworks, the colours of the threads change gradually according to the chosen system, Keskinen explains.

Keskinen realizes her artworks using her developed weaving technique, creating different-sized parts and formations of coloured, recurring elements. The parts often feature geometric square and rectangular shapes in various sizes. The surface has a simple plain weave, where different-coloured threads intersect vertically and horizontally, one over and one under. Delicate and subtle changes in colours and the abundance of tones stand out in the pixel-like surface. When viewed up close, the different-coloured threads can be distinguished, but from a distance, the colours blend optically through their combined effect.

 - My expression is clear and simplified. The surface structure imitates woven fabric, but I create the artworks without a loom, using weaving and sewing techniques. Weaving as a technique has its roots in thousands of years ago, but I have developed and adapted it to suit my own work. The skill of working with hands and a sense of materials are strongly present in my artworks.

For Keskinen, spatiality is important. The artworks often create a three-dimensional impression on the surface or have multiple layers in space. The space shapes the artwork, and the artwork shapes the space. The artworks form entities whose relationship with each other Keskinen contemplates.

Delicate works executed from transparent and lightweight structures assume their final form only when hung in space, revealing their colours and content to the viewer in multifaceted ways depending on the direction of light. The colours come alive depending on the space. The same artwork in different spaces can present various colour experiences. Light plays a significant role in the perception of the artworks.


Merja Keskinen

Artist Professor, textile artist Merja Keskinen was born in Turku in 1959. She graduated as a Master of Arts from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now Aalto University) in 1988 and currently lives and works in Helsinki. She has worked for several years in design and expert roles with Finlayson's and Ahlmedahl's public space textile collections.

In recent years, Keskinen has focused on artistic work. She has held several solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions with her textile artworks both in Finland and abroad. Keskinen created commissioned textile artworks for the Finnish Embassy in Paris in 2012 and for the new premises of the Finnish Centre for Pensions in Helsinki in 2020.

The Textile Artists TEXO awarded Keskinen with the recognition of Textile Artist of the Year in 2019. The Arts Promotion Centre Finland granted Keskinen a five-year State Artist Professor Grant for the years 2022-2026.


Merja Keskinen - Imagined Fabrics
Exhibition at the Craft Museum of Finland 9.9.-3.12.2023.
Museum is open Tue-Sun 11-18.
Kauppakatu 25, Jyväskylä


More information:

Merja Keskinen, Full of Space, 2021, yksityiskohta, Photo: Jere Keskinen

Merja Keskinen, Transparent Colors 2, 2021, yksityiskohta, Photo: Janne Keskinen

Merja Keskinen, Dark Colors, 2023, 94 x 160 cm, Photo: Johnny Korkman

Merja Keskinen, Fairytale Colors, 2023, 63 x 132 cm, Photo: Johnny Korkman

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