Kati Riikonen was born in 1975 in Lieksa, Finland.
After undergoing a formation in Arts at the University of Lapland, she pursues her studies in Greece. There, she discovers the antic myths and legends that will inspire her future artworks.
After graduating, she teaches Arts in London, then Helsinki, in Finland where she still lives and develops her long Art teaching career.
Her sensibility grew through her many researches, travels and discoveries of other Cultures. Her painting transposed her first Greek inspirations into a Nordic atmosphere and she createS a dream world made of tempered colors, delicateness, and poetry. “I wish to tell stories through my paintings. Life is vagarious, and we need seeds of hope.” – Says Kati Riikonen.
“All we can hear here are these echoes. Nothing but the sounds of ravens and scavenger birds can be heard. The forest plays us wistful melodies outside the tent; may it play just as wistful melodies to all you living in freedom.” Aimo, in the wilderness, 16 June 1941.
The place I come from, Lieksa, is a small town near the Finnish–Russian border. My roots are firmly embedded in Northern Karelia, and in my thoughts I often return to those landscapes. In the 1990s I went exploring in the attic of my childhood home. It was there that I chanced upon an old suitcase full of letters and postcards whose texts have continued to haunt me.
The paintings in the Echoes exhibition are based on the correspondence between two of my uncles, Unto and Aimo Riikonen, and their family back at home between 1939 and 1941. Those wartime letters have opened up a touching point of view on the period covering the Winter War and the Moscow Armistice and ending with the fall of my uncles in the first months of the Continuation War. At that time Europe was in a state of emergency, and the Second World War was to leave its sad imprint on the history of nations.
How did those who were preparing for war and fighting on the battlefield feel? What did the family members at the home front think? The letters convey many kinds of thoughts. They are not full of stories of a war the details of which my uncles were forbidden from mentioning in their letters. Instead, they contain dreams, depictions of daily life, concrete requests to family members, wishes and greetings as well as words of caring and soothing.
I wish to tell stories through my paintings. Life is vagarious, and we need seeds of hope. The Paris Peace Treaties were signed on the 10th of February 1947. They stipulated respect for human rights, yet we have yet to see that respect be a reality. As we move towards the wisdom that can be found in the stories of the generations that have gone before us, we have a chance to act in favour of peace and humanity. We must not forget our history, for it is the foundation upon which we build our present and our future.
Text: Kati Riikonen and Miia Siven, Translation: Céline Hutsebaut (Finland), Pertti Alajoki (Finland), Révision: Any Collin (France)
2012 “Echoes”, Ricardo Fernandes Gallery, Paris, France
2000 “Manifesto”, Meeko Group, Kajo Gallery, Rovaniemi, Finland
1999 “Sister & the Brother of Her”, Heikki & Kati Riikonen, Lieksa Library, Finland
1999 “Kohinaa Ihollasi Installation”, Meeko Group, Katve Gallery, Rovaniemi, Finland
1997 “Spring Exhibition”, Lahiti Folk School, Lahti, Finland