Viljami Heinonen: Jaktens tid

JUNE 2024

In the painting Jaktens tid [Hour of the Hunt] (2024), a tiger has attacked a horse. In the highly emotional painting, the built environment has become eutrophic and wild. Has nature taken dominance from man? 

Painter Viljami Heinonen (b. 1986) paints expressively. His paintings often consist of collage-like components that combine figurative and non-figurative elements. Heinonen’s painting is rich and layered. The powerful movement and pace of the work immerse the viewer in witnessing the intense scene. 

The setting of the painting seems to be both indoors and outdoors at the same time. Where are we? In recent years, Heinonen’s paintings have depicted human dwellings invaded by wild animals, where animals reside or compete for their position of power. In this painting, the only signs of human presence are visible as graffiti paintings and at the same time they speak about the desolation of the environment. The age of human power seems to be coming to an end.

At the center of the picture is a fierce struggle. Another looming danger also seems to be approaching behind the window. Watching the work evokes feelings of fear and insecurity. According to the artist, the attack shown in the image can also be thought of as a reference to the plight of civilians in the war in Ukraine as victims of the Russian invasion. On the other hand, it can signal the climate crisis and nature’s emergency. 

We have seen attacks on horses before in art history. In the paintings of the French, Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix (1798–1863), jaguars have attacked horses. His paintings also exude drama and strong emotions. The works of the artists are united by energetic movement. Heinonen is not a romantic, but he acknowledges the reference to Delacroix. 

When looking at the painting Jaktens tid, one cannot help but sense the speed and physicality of the artist’s work. When Heinonen paints, he throws himself one hundred percent into what he is doing. The influence of the artist’s boxing hobby can be seen in the background of the painting process. Painting is also a kind of struggle with the work itself. In addition, heavy metal music playing in the background creates rhythm for the movement of hand. 

Although Heinonen’s works depict anguish and distress, there is often something human and gentle in them. Flowers adorning the edges of the painting can signal that something good still remains. Heinonen’s works often contain a contradiction: they combine beauty and something broken.

Viljami Heinonen can be characterised as one of the most talented painters of his generation. The work Jaktens tid was acquired for the contemporary art collection of the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation in autumn 2023.

Eeva Ilveskoski

Viljami Heinonen, Jaktens tid, 2023, oli on canvas, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation. Photograph: Sampo Linkoneva.