Kati Riikonen was born in 1975 in Lieksa, Finland.
After starting a University degree in arts at the University of Lapland, she decided to pursue her studies in Greece, where she discovered the myths and legends of antiquity which served as inspiration some time later in her paintings.
It is through her travels and the sharing of cultures that Kati Riikonen has developed her artistic tenderness and sensibility. Inspired by the Greek founding myths, her paintings celebrate the revival of a bestiary and ancestral symbolism transposed into a Nordic universe where candor unites with the temperance of colors.
She creates a dream world made of poetry and softness where fragility resonates with nobility and elegance.
“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)
2017 University of Helsinki, Psychology, Helsinki, Finland
2003 Master of Arts, University of Lapland, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Lapland, Finland
2002 Technological Educational Institution of Athens, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Athens, Greece
1997 Fine Art, Lahti Folk High School, Lahti, Finland
Some Thoughts… , Galerie Ricardo Fernandes, Paris, France
Echoes, Galerie Ricardo Fernandes, Paris, France
aestival 07, Ricardo Fernandes Gallery at Cloître des Billettes Cultural Center, Paris, France
Lieksa’s and Segeza’s Young Artist’s Exhibition, Lieksa Cultural Centre, Segeza Art Gallery, Russia
Manifesto, Meeko Group, Kajo Gallery, Rovaniemi, Finland
Sister and the Brother of Her, Heikki & Kati Riikonen, Lieksa Library, Finland
Kohinaa Ihollasi Installation, Meeko Group, Katve Gallery, Rovaniemi, Finland
Spring Exhibition, Lahti Folk School, Lahti, Finland
Main Galleries and Institutions Collections
Galerie Ricardo Fernandes, Paris, France
Lahti Folk High School, Lahti, Finland
Main Private Collections
Anna-Kaisa Reima, Helsinki, Finland
Anssi Nevalainen, Helsinki, Finland
Evgenia and Ioannis Kotronias, Athens, Greece
Kaisa Lackman, Helsinki, Finland
Kelly Skiada, Athens, Greece
Lea Hietanen, Lieksa, Finland
Liisa and Martti Tirronen, Lieksa, Finland
Maija and Osmo Kämäräinen, Iisalmi, Finland
Mari Huuhtanen, Vantaa, Finland
Meri Hurskainen, Kotka, Finland
Miia and Marko Siven, Lahti, Finland
Pirjo et Kalle Riikonen, Mikkeli, Finland
Ricardo Fernandes and Sami Korhonen, Paris, France
Riittaliisa and Esa Lavinen, Joensuu, Finland
Sirkka and Erkki Arvilommi, Kotka, Finland
Sirpa and Kalle Virman, Lieksa, Finland
Terhi Hällström, Leppävirta, Finland
Terttu and Teuvo Riikonen, Lieksa, Finland