LIVES AND WORKS
LIVES AND WORKS
DATE OF BIRTH
Ulla Karttunen is a Finland-based multidisciplinary artist who has focused on digital images, installations and socially critical projects. As a transdisciplinary avantgarde artist, or a philosopher-artist, she has combined visual and conceptual experiments, pushed boundaries of art by showing it in everyday environments (like in a gallery founded in her bedroom and bathroom in Paris), or used banal, antiheroic materials like toilet paper, media junk, ketchup or nail polish in her art. Her action aims to question power relations in art and reality, and her art has eg. participated in social debates concerning violence against women or pornification of society.
Karttunen’s artistic technique also in her digital works includes often many manual phases from drawing, shredding, or painting with unartistic materials, and the final works are in-between paintings, photographs and collages. Karttunen starts from everyday vulgar spheres of advertising imagery or toilet paper, in order to reach non-up-to-date realms of the sublime, the sacred – the underlying question that interests her is what could have existential meaning in today’s secular, visually over-loaded society.
Karttunen’s digital collages have been described as extremely skillful and impressive, called in critiques as ”horrifyingly beautiful, even sacred-like” or ”soaked in blood and power”. These digital paintings seem to enflesh mysterious atmosphere and carry symbolistic, surreal and poetic references, but they can also be interpreted as contemporary versions of socially engaged art, treating themes around market-based values, equality, gender, censorship, or blind spots of society. Karttunen has also lectured on these subjects, and especially on the seduction-based aesthetics of the contemporary visual society, in various international conferences and published approximately 200 essays on philosophical questions in art and society.
Karttunen’s visual art is documented in three artist monographs. The name of one of these books, ”Ulla Karttunen, A Modern Mystic” (Publications of the Joensuu Art Museum 2011), tells of her artistic inclinations: she is not only an avantgardist or a social critic but could also be seen as a mystic or visual thinker of the digital age. For her pioneering work in multidisciplinary art, Karttunen was awarded a 5-year artist’s grant from the beginning of 2015. She was the winner in an international contest on contemporary taboos in 2016. In 2017, she was nominated finalist in three international art prizes. Her art has been seen recently in eg. London, Los Angeles, Miami, Rome, Paris, Florence, and Berlin.
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