I am meeting German-born Finnish artist Mikko Hintz (1974) at the artist’s temporary studio in Riga, where Mikko has been living for the last four weeks and preparing his new exhibition “You’re hello I’m goodbye”, which opened on June 2 at “Kalnciema ielas kvartāls” exhibition space and will be on view through June 30.
Arterritory.com, however, has already familiarized with Mikko’s work, when he had an exhibition “Enough is Enough” at the Estonian gallery Temnikova & Kasela, together with Latvian painter Inga Meldere. Since then Mikko has stepped away from layering paints and pigments, instead choosing to explore a rather different technique – silk-screening. But even though the medium has changed, the philosophy and the thought process behind his works have remained intact.
Did you have a clear vision for the exhibition “You’re hello I’m goodbye” before you came to Riga?
I came here with two artworks in my pocket [“Fune” and “Onde Mol”], which were created a long time ago – they are about 15 years old, but somehow they connect with the recent works as well. You can find a path and then you pick up what’s going on. During my stay in Riga, however, my ideas mostly developed in the process; while I was working on some of the concepts, others came to mind. You just have to keep them in your memory.
Could you tell me a little bit more about the philosophy behind this exhibition?
There are several points of approaching this exhibition subject. On one hand, I found the silk-screening technique very interesting. Somehow I realized that it allowed me to bring together very different practices; I can reach out different ideas that do not have a sensible connection. Printmaking in general, and also photography, allows the artist to put his thoughts on one line. In a picture you have a perspective, you have several depths, but somehow this technique makes it flat, it flattens the image. I tried to create or pick out images that are in a way “not quite there yet” – that are not reached, that leave an impression that there could be more, or that there might be something waiting. When I look at these artworks I see that there is something looking back. Somehow there are almost entrances inside the work but you need to conclude it yourself. When people view any work of art, I have realized that they usually start looking for some reason. They try to find faces or figures. (laughs). I think it’s a basic human thing – to locate something lively. Although these artworks are very diverse, I believe that you can somehow connect them together. It’s something that you cannot avoid. When you look at them you connect these elements and I like that.
On the other hand, lately I have been thinking about this particular concept of boredom, which I actually stumbled over in Heidegger’s [Martin Heidegger] biography. When I read it, I was in an absolute agreement with his philosophy. Somehow these ideas that Heidegger expressed felt like walking on a parallel street. I found that it connected with the process of painting – to feelings, which I am quite familiar with.
Does this mean that you often welcome boredom in your life?
(Laughs) It’s a word that of course describes the feeling as in “I’m bored” but Heidegger explained his idea as steps that you go through during this process – it’s a confusion that leads to somehow feeling connected. In this boredom you step back and become passive, which in turn leads to uneasiness. I find it very similar to the process of painting. You usually start working with a lot of energy and you hope that this idea will work, but what happens through this travel from the starting point to the end, is that you see that the idea has to change in order to work out. I think it’s a general thing – the illusion and the reality. You start with the illusion and then you confront the reality, at which point you have to make a jump. I also think that between the illusion and the end-work, you have a feeling of somehow being ashamed or confused. You don’t really know what to do but then you try and step forward. In a way it’s unavoidable. In the last couple of shows I tried to explore this idea of getting confused and having many possibilities. In the process of painting I used many, many layers of paint with many ideas on top of each other, and then in the end it became a dead end.
Photo: Kalnciema ielas kvartāls
I recently saw a documentary about the German artist Gerhard Richter, where he explained that the process of creating art to him means a limitation of actions – each brushstroke limits his next move, until he is left with the dead end.
I think it’s a good point. I mean – the second you decide to put a brush on the paper or canvas, according to the illusion or the idea you have, it’s already a mistake. We human beings want to keep our illusions perfect. It’s also a good idea, as, when you really hit the screen or push the button, you cannot go back. In that sense I would agree with Richter.
Actually, I really enjoy getting to know the thought process that other artists go though and the way they try to explain it to others. There is a different connection and it’s mainly a physical connection when an artist is talking about his or her work. In this case, it is very realistic – this sense of the physical talking about the reality and illusion. I don’t mean it like “I take the hammer and then I hit the sculpture”, but how they describe the artwork – the allegories that link to the pictures, the words they use. I enjoy when artists try to describe how to get inside of their work, how to work this thing out.