Johanna Kestilä, born in 1973 in Helsinki, Finland, is an artist currently residing and working in her hometown. With a diverse background in weaving, construction drawing, textile design, visual arts, and visual art therapy, she specializes in creating textile paintings that explore space and density.
How did you get into art?
Growing up in a home deeply immersed in art, culture, and politics, I naturally gravitated towards the world of creativity. I oscillated between social and textile art studies during my student years, eventually blending these skills in my professional life. The joy of learning and creating art led me to share this passion with others. Art became my lifeline, providing structure and understanding to the chaos of the world around me.
How would you describe your style? What makes your art special?
My work defies a single style, as I am drawn to constant change and growth. I combine pictures and textile pieces in unconventional and innovative ways, refusing to be confined to a single perspective or style. My work possesses a distinct character that shines through, regardless of the medium or technique I employ.
I challenge the notion of "finished" pieces by deconstructing initially complete paintings into distinct elements. Afterward, I study these reborn materials as entirely distinct from their original forms and reconstruct them in the final production. This process breathes life and movement into the creations, resulting in a delicate harmony. Despite its demanding nature, this technique exudes tenderness and vulnerability, inviting viewers into a tranquil and harmonious experience.
How do you go about developing your work?
I work on multiple pieces concurrently, allowing for free and uncontrolled linework and memory-based experimentation. I spread textile pieces across the floor, emptying my memory onto them—a favorite step in my process. Eventually, I tear these pieces into smaller fragments and reassemble them in a new order. My art seeks balance amid the complexity of the world, finding structure through rearrangement.
Who or what influences you?
I am highly sensitive to my surroundings, transforming challenging concepts into visually understandable forms. Having exceptional artists as teachers and the influence of childhood events have significantly shaped my creative perspective.
What are you planning to do next?
Excitingly, my first New York exhibition is set to debut on October 5, 2023, in collaboration with the Harsh Collective. Hope to see you there!