Valentina Palonen is a Finnish-Australian visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work combines figuration, vivid colour and motifs of the natural world to respond to contemporary experiences of the environment. She has exhibited extensively across a range of gallery spaces, undertaken residencies both locally and abroad, most recently at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (2015), and has been the recipient of various awards including an Australia Council New Work grant (2012) and NAVA’s Janet Holmes à Court Artist grant (2012). Her work has also been shortlisted for a range of prizes including the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship (2013), Keith & Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowship (2011 & 2015), and more recently The Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize (2016).
Valentina has completed a Master of Fine Art (by research) (2012) at the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Melbourne, and is currently a PhD candidate at RMIT University.
She is represented by Gould Galleries in Melbourne, Australia.
Artist Statement (2017)
I am interested in exploring sensorial engagement with the natural world: the coarse bark of a tree trunk under my fingers, the icy lick of river water, a forest clearing vivified by the thrum of humming insects.
I feel these experiences in colours and sensations, and strive to reinterpret them through an intuitive approach to painting in which organic forms often dissolve into flecks of abstraction and fields of colour. These new works are also heavily influenced by the aesthetics of watercolour, and I often reprise the spontaneous effects present in my watercolour studies in final works.
For Hands like water, I wanted to focus on the potential of colour and figuration to evoke feelings of immersion, atmosphere, and intimacy with the natural world. Featuring solitary figures flanked by thin washes of paint, as well as groupings in natural settings, my intention was to create works recalling memories of youthful revelry, rites of passage, and escapism. These paintings are informed by a combination of evocative found imagery and autobiographical recollections from summers past. Each mark responds to the preceding mark in an unbroken chain led in equal measure by process-led practice and a personal response to landscape. I engage in this flow of intuitive making before the chain is broken and the marks become superficial ̶ I try to stop painting before this point.
-Valentina Palonen July 2017