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INKA KIVALO: PERSONAE. GOBELINS AND TEXTILE SCULPTURES

Inka Kivalo - Personae. Alvar Aalto Museum Gallery.

Kivalo´s works combine ancient weaving and embroidery techniques with a modern, intuitive painterliness.

Inka Kivalo

Inka Kivalo (b. 1956) is one of the leading names in modern Finnish textile art. She was named Finnish Textile Artist of the Year – the most important art-textile prize in Finland – in the year 2000 for her professionally and artistically outstanding work.

Other marks of recognition she has received include the Maire Gullichsen Prize in 2018 and the Stiftelsen Fokus Borås foundation’s Nordic Award in Textiles and the accompanying exhibition at Borås in Sweden in 2019. Besides fine art Kivalo has, for instance, made designs for Marimekko and worked as a teacher.

 

Inka Kivalo. Photo: Aino Huovio.

”EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE YARN, WHICH I TWIST TOGETHER OUT OF YARNS AND FINE STRANDS. SINCE I MAKE MY YARNS MYSELF, I GET A RICH PALETTE OF SHADES OF COLOUR, WHICH I FURTHER MIX TOGETHER BY WEAVING.”

Gobelins

ALCHEMY, 2017. 200cm x 145cm.

IN DUET 1 & 2, 2019. 150 cm x 110 cm.

Kivalo’s most important piece of equipment is her more-than-a-century-old loom made from the root of a spruce tree. Nevertheless, traditional tools and techniques do not appear in her works as nostalgia, rather, they are visual painting with yarn and an ecstatic experience of colour.

“Weaving requires that one puts their heart into it, and it also demands patience. It is also a manifestation of playfulness and joy, as the technical act of weaving is not substantial; vision is”, Kivalo explains. “I paint with yarns and colour is the main element of my works. I come alive when I am doing things by hand and looking. In the image traced on the retina I aim for beauty or sensuality. I cannot avoid ornamentality, since it is an inherent part of textiles.”

”I often use a framework theme; in a way I look inwards and outwards. It is, on one hand, about the feeling of safety, framing and human edges, but then, the patterns can also float on the surface, respecting no boundaries.”

SILVER ROOM, 2014. 80cm x 60cm.

ANNORLUNDA, 2014. 80cm x 60cm.

VERDE HAIKU -series 1,2,3,4, 2019. 39cm x 34cm.

”My woven artworks are like windows to colourful worlds. They do not epress anything straightforwardly, they just hint at the right direction, unveiling the atmosphere.”

 

“The woven fabric is itself the theme of what I do. I elaborate a simple plain weave by manipulating it.”

 

THE RED THREAD, 2020. 70 cm x 57 cm.

Sculptures

”The role of my sculptures has always been to be like a viewer in an exhibition space.”

Once in a while Kivalo makes sculptures. Initially they were animals, later stylized human figures and heads. “During the last years I have used embroidery in my sculptures. With this technique the embroidery builds the form, and therefore the textile sculptures are more surface than just their form.”

HAUTE COUTURE, 2019. 35cm x 15cm x 14cm.

From the series Waitresses, 2016.

From the series ”need for adorning”, 2014.

 

”I enjoy making handicrafts, because it brings joy to their maker. I became a textile artist because the blaze of colours is softer in textiles, and I try to make life more beautiful.”

Inka Kivalo - Personae. Alvar Aalto Museum Gallery 21.2. – 26.4.2020

Exhibition photos: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation

Curating and exhibition layout: Inka Kivalo

Designer and maker of exhibition furniture: Pentti Hakala

Graphic design: Tiina Ekosaari

Structures and technical installation: Antti Heino with Alvar Aalto Museum exhibition team

Online presentation of the exhibition: Mari Murtoniemi and Tomi Summanen