Elusive Obvious by Vesa Kivinen. All images courtesy of the artist.

These Layered Photo-Paintings Are Several Works of Art at Once

Francesca Capossela

Vesa Kivinen combines oil painting, body painting, and nature photography to create a work of art that is several pieces and one piece simultaneously

Elusive Obvious by Vesa Kivinen. All images courtesy of the artist.

Combining oil painting, body painting, and nature photography into richly complex layered works has been Vesa Kivinen's project for the last nine years. In that time, his work has been hailed as the "amongst the most integrally advanced in the history of Western abstraction," by by Michael Schwartz, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Art at Augusta State University. But Kivinen's layering is not confined to the canvas. His famous project with Bollywood superstar Veena Malik integrates the actress's personal and public life into his portraits of her, playing with pop culture as well as culture itself in thoughtful ways. If Kivinen's work is essentially modern in process, and his content concerned with the contemporary, his interest lies in transcendent truths, so much so that his personal philosophy occasionally overpowers his artwork. Kivinen describes Malik as someone "performing grace under tremendous pressure," and his portraits of her illustrate this.

Beginning of a New Era

Each of Kivinen's complex works is itself made up of multiple works, but the layering occurs in reverse as well. Progress photos taken of Kivinen's process are sold separately on his website in his Raw series and are considered their own complete pieces. The individual building blocks of a piece contribute to the whole, but exist simultaneously on their own. The beauty of Kivinen's work is that his pieces can exist at separate stages in time simultaneously, making portions of his portfolio a series of interrelated works that move forwards and backwards in time, imagining different possible transformations, and allow for different future possibilities.

Deciding which pieces can stand on their own and when an individual piece is done is doubly complicated because of the multiplicity of Kivinen's work. Of his Raw series, Kivinen tells Creators, it's difficult to allow the incomplete pieces to remain unedited and imperfect: "It's hard to try and learn to love the process as much as the end result... stopping at a pure moment is difficult for me," he says.

Elusive Obvious Raw
Take Me To California
Flower of Life

Check out Vesa Kivinen's other work on his website.

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