Sinne is rounding off its 2021 exhibition year with the Saved But Meant to Load exhibition. Hemmo Siponen’s latest opus is a series of figurative watercolour paintings on canvas in which he looks at pause, recovery, regeneration and resting. The exhibition’s themes draw their inspiration from TV and computer games. The artist deals with what are known as Save points; places in games where the player’s character can upgrade itself and draw breath before the next trial.* Siponen creates a special atmosphere; an impending mystery hangs heavily in the air, but is not frightening. His new works are dreamlike, but conduct a direct dialogue with the reality that we live in today.
In Saved But Meant to Load Siponen takes his watercolour painting a step further. During his studies he made an in-depth investigation of watercolour painting, touching on an aspect of watercolour paint not normally used by artists. So as to isolate that aspect and further study the behaviour of the paint, Siponen has chosen to work on canvas instead of paper. Watercolour painting is usually associated with transparent, washed layers of paint that interact with the fibres and structure of the paper. Siponen’s watercolours, meanwhile, are constructed so that the different layers of paint can be rinsed off the canvas in a fairly controlled manner, but with varying results. This process, too, generates a number of surprise moments. In Siponen’s paintings the signature brushwork of watercolour has gone and the paint surfaces occasionally bear similarities to something we see in graphic prints.
Siponen, who previously worked for a long time with an abstract mode of expression, has on this occasion made a set of paintings with figurative motifs. These are fictive places, objects and events that take our thoughts to old, forgotten knowledge and folklore. It is as if he is depicting an alien or extinct culture that is in touch with other dimensions and insights. Siponen creates extra-terrestrial landscapes and reverses gravity, letting dew hang upwards, he stretches out a thin, transparent fabric to catch someone falling, he fills bottles with nameless oils, scents and tinctures. In the midst of all this Siponen has succeeded in communicating a peace and calm, ensuring that everything that goes on in his image world strikes us as extremely natural. It is as though it was all a logical response to our stress, our loneliness, our struggle, and our desire for everyday life to be more forgiving.
*Save points, also called Checkpoints, are places in some longer adventure games where players can save their progress. In the game’s narrative these points are usually an indication that a bigger challenge is imminent or then they serve as breathing spaces where the character can recuperate and adjust, and upgrade their inventory. Save Points can be thought of as insignificant and easily end up being overshadowed by the grand dramatic arc, but they are still places that balance out the game and contribute to the experience of the game and its overall atmosphere.