The work, which appears traditional at first sight, has a particular fascination in the form of a hidden message that will slowly be revealed from beneath the painting’s layers. The effect is by no means immediate, however, because the text – written by Timo Viherkenttä himself – will not become readable for a few decades.
“I made my first hidden-message painting for a retrospective held in 2008 at Helsinki Art Museum,” explains Anne Koskinen. “At an exhibition last year at Galleria Anhava, I also showed portraits that change over time. I had no models sitting for those, they were painted from my imagination.”
Viherkenttä’s portrait was completed using old painting techniques, including the use of genuine gold and silver. “They accentuate light and shadows. Gold and silver appeared in fine art already in the Renaissance. They were used in drawing and priming before the invention of the pencil; Leonardo da Vinci’s brown-toned drawings are actually oxidised silver.”
Originally trained as a painter, Koskinen has recently worked mostly on sculpture. In summer 2018 she showed works on the female figure in Kultaranta (the summer residence of the President of Finland). The portrait of Timo Viherkenttä is the first modelled work she has done in a long time. “It is titled Revelation – Timo Viherkenttä, and whether the revelation refers to an apparition or an unveiling will become evident in several years’ time,” Koskinen says, smiling. It may also lead to a whole series of new revelation-themed works. “I have become newly inspired by painting after all the sculpture,” Koskinen says. She is now looking forward to a few months of working in New York on a grant from the Cultural Foundation.
For Timo Viherkenttä, having his portrait painted was an interesting, and at the same time exciting, journey both forward and back in time. “I think that the idea that the speech bubble hidden in the painting might not be revealed for decades befits the Cultural Foundation’s long-term vision. Not everything is in the here and now: the Foundation also exists for the future,” Viherkenttä explains. As for the content of the message, no amount of inquisitive questioning will get him to reveal it. All we can say is that it is a testament of sorts for future generations. That is also very much in the spirit of the Foundation.
Text: Marika Aspila
Photograph: Heikki Tuuli