Solo exhibition, SIC, Helsinki

Timo Vaittinen’s exhibition “‹([0])›‹([0])›” offers a contemporary update on the botanical imaginary. Plant motifs pervade the five paintings and two textiles, while wifihenge (all works 2021) arranges six acrylic casts of internet routers on the floor like a fairy circle of sprouted mushrooms. To further set the mood, the installation Drug Influenced High Emotional Culture hooks a common houseplant, the fiddle-leaf fig, to a biodata sonificator in order to translate its biorhythms into sound. The result is then fed through a sampler, producing a kind of trap music in the key of D minor: “the saddest musical scale.” Altogether, the works draw attention to the Finnish textile-design industry and its fixation on flower patterns (most keenly felt in the enduring cultural relevance of Maija Isola’s 1964 Unikko print for Marimekko).

When interviewed two years ago, Vaittinen described his approach to textiles as similar to a painter’s to canvas. At that point, the artist was using the fabrics common in work clothes and athletic wear to create designs that read like abstract painting while also conjuring flags and the logos of sports teams. In this exhibition, the feel of a painted canvas is even more present in the pair of large-scale textiles ‹([0])›‹([0])› and Moonflowers. Both of the figurative works depict a window (one faces a garden, the other a supermoon) with a selection of peculiar flowers on the sill. The floral theme continues in acrylic-on-board paintings such as 5S and b00t, which show fragments of stems, leaves, petals, and sepals caught up in 1970s-style psychedelic whirls. In each piece, Vaittinen seems to find a new twist in the language of flowers without ever falling into the traps of romantic sentimentality or nostalgia. – Sini Mononen