Now Featuring Jenni Rope

Artist, gallerist and publisher Jenni Rope mixes the playful shapes and sophisticated, strange color in works that span painting, animation, installation and book works.  Based in Helsinki, Rope exhibits internationally and runs Napa Books and Gallery.  She talked with LPP about her studio process and current and upcoming projects.

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Exclusive Print, Breakfast

Exclusive Print, Cave

Exclusive Print, Forgotten City

Exclusive Print, Motel

Exclusive Print, Sky

MH: What can you tell me about your “shaped” paintings, the ones with irregular or nontraditional edges?  I really enjoy some of them, and how much they remind me of signs. Also, what kind of ground do you paint on?

JR: I started making the shaped paintings after a long collage period. I wondered why should I paint on this rectangle when I can cut the board as I cut the paper. At first I started making My Forest, a series of 25 shaped paintings that would together form a vision of my forest. These works were made for a tour of exhibitions in Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo in 2009-2010. I wanted to activate different spaces around the paintings, they really need a lot of space and they environment becomes quite important around them.

For materials I use MDF board and acrylic paints and sometimes also paper collage glued on top. With collage I don’t mean images from magazines but I cut my own old drawings and paintings to get the material.

My Forest, Berlin

MH: Tell me about your Tape Works series of collages.  Are you working with prefabricated adhesive tapes and stickers?  What were the parameters of the project?

JR: Tape works were made in 2007, when I was really inspired of different coloured tapes found in hardware stores around the world. Cutting, as you know now, is my favourite thing, and little pieces of tape can be found on the bottom of my shoes, daily. I used acrylic plexiglass as the base and all kind of tapes on top. They were photographed in front of light for my book Round Letters, where they were printed on transparent acetate pages. The book consists of the tape works and little stories written by me.

MH: Why is cutting your favorite activity?  It’s probably good that you like it so much, but you also look like you really enjoy brushstrokes and mixing strange colors!

JR: Yes, of course I enjoy those too. Cutting must be my favourite because the scissors are in a way going their own way on the paper, you know. The picture I’m cutting is leading the way, and I can relax more doing it. And I really like moving the pieces around before deciding where they should be on the canvas. It’s a bit like a puzzle.

MH: Can you tell me about how you think about painting and sculpture in relationship to each other?  I enjoy how mixed up they become in your work: sculptures with painterly surfaces, paintings that seem to be all about a sense of mass and silhouette… plus arrangements of work installed together.

JR: The shaped works are definitely much more sculpturelike than my previous works. And after making the paintings I even started collecting thrift wood and making small sculpture parks. It seems I need more challenge in the studio! Trying to find a right colour and texture for each persona/shape is very interesting. Also the shapes talk to each other more than basic rectangulars do.

MH: What can you tell my about the pieces you hang from clotheslines?  They’re intriguing, and seem to hint at the idea that they can be rearranged, etc.

JR: The clothesline work is called 80 Trees, and it was installed once in NowIdea in Tokyo. If I would hang it again it would be different for sure. These 80 pieces of painted paper were for me the trees that all have their personality as living creatures. I wanted to find a personality for each piece of paper. There I showed my animation too, The Climbing Tree, that was also made from cut-out papers. In the animation all the pieces of paper in different shapes were as actors in my film.

MH: I really enjoy the pictures you post on your Tumblr… all those great chairs!  Can you tell me about them, and the way you gather influences and interesting images? and colors?

JR: Thanks! I’ve been doing tumblr for a couple of months now and really enjoying it. At the moment I’m into chairs and kitchens, because we’re renovating a new apartment and moving in in the fall! And sometimes interior magazines give me more inspiration even for my artistic work. Just flicking through magazines or blogs can help me solve knots in my own work.

MH: Will you tell me how Napa Gallery and Napa Books came about?

JR: I founded Napa Books in 1997 with my friend Jussi Karjalainen, and at first we published one comic book a year. Since 2001 I have continued managing the publishing side by myself, publishing art books, graphic novels and flipbooks. I founded the Napa Gallery & Shop in Helsinki in 2007, first as a studio and now it has become a gallery too. The space hosts a little Napa bookshop, and together with a group of friends we’ve founded a gallery association that organises workshops and happenings at the space. I’m really lucky to have found a nice group of people to help me, and now I’m able to take more time for my own works.

MH:What kinds of projects are you working on right now?  Anything exciting coming up?

JR: Yes, many exciting things are coming up this year! At the moment I’m making a big scale wall piece (with Terhi Ekebom) for the new University Library that’s being built in the Helsinki center in the spring 2012. Also some textile design for Marimekko, that’s pretty exciting! My first designs will appear in the christmas collection this year, the clothes being designed by Noora Niinikoski. My next bigger solo show of paintings and animations is coming up this December too. So, lots of work right now, I’m learning a lot of new things and enjoying it.


1 Our First April 2011 featured LPP artist- Jenni Rope | { 04.01.11 at 5:05 pm }

[...] To read the interview we conducted with Jenni: [...]

2 French FourchNo Gravatar { 04.02.11 at 2:25 am }

You can pourchace the wonderfull zine that Jenni made for us here: :)

3 MelNo Gravatar { 11.17.11 at 12:09 am }

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