Is the temperature of a colour measurable?

Anu Tuominen, Warm, Cold 2019.

Serlachius Museums showcased during the winter and summer a small colour themed exhibition. The colours at the exhibition were almost exclusively pressed out of the tube, mixed with palette knife and spread out on the canvas with a brush. However, among the paintings and sculptures, pegs in different colours hung on the line, also woollen socks and mittens, a landscape constructed of crayons and pencils into a pencil box as well as recycled thermometers in different colours were displayed. Their creator Anu Tuominen, Finnish conceptual artist with a long career, has been awarded Ars Fennica Prize in year 2003, among others.

Surprising and pleasant connotations and insights form the core of Anu Tuominen’s art. Recovered objects and handcraft combining artist is renowned as reviver of familiar everyday objects. She uses playfully the forms and colours of crayons, pegs and potholders, and creates new meanings by renaming the objects. The pegs hung on the line become artworks as you realise the connection between the sprawling green pegs indoors and the spruce trees standing behind the window. Or you discern the blue of lake or the tone of the red-brick museums building in the worn-out pegs. When looking at the Colours in Landscape, I find myself chuckling, – Some people paint in oil colour, some people with pegs.

Using ready-made object is no new inventions, it is already commonplace in contemporary art that instead of making the object to be used, the artist chooses one. The best know example is probably Marcel Duchamp’s (1887-1938) ready-made Fountain which startled already in the 1910s. In the 1960s, also the pop art made use of ready-made objects and images, and often the bright colours of commercial world. Conceptual art which considered ideas, concepts and language more important than artist’s skills in creating an artefact, was developed on the same decade.

Anu Tuominen’s work are continuation of this tradition. Her ready-made art consists often of objects found on flea-market, homey and worn-out, whose purpose and history continue their history. Among the conceptual art, colourful and transparent line created by Tuominen is gratifying, because conceptual artwork that are based on intellect and thinking are rich in ideas yet often visually scant and for the viewer demanding. With every-day objects Tuominen creates rich puzzles of ideas in which utilities receive new names and new meanings thus becoming altogether something else.

Consisted of used thermometers in different colours, the artwork Warm, Cold was made for the exhibition, on the site, parallel to the paintings of Sigrid Schauman, belonging to the Fine Arts Foundation’s collection. Schauman’s works has already been hung, when Tuominen arrived with her baskets and bags full of various objects. In Schauman’s paintings, warms and cold colours tones were applied delicately to create the atmosphere of cool morning before a sunny day. It was silent in the exhibition space. Tuominen stood in front of the paintings shuffling the thermometers in a calm rhythm on the suspension trolley. Museum technician an I stood close by without saying a word until the artist could order thermometers in a row that pleased her and in which they were then attached to the wall with nails. All 13 thermometers show the same temperature, but what if the temperature of the colour was measurable? Warm, Cold was acquired for Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s collection when the exhibition closed.

Laura Kuurne
Head Curator

Anu Tuominen, Warm, cold, 2019. Recovered objects.
Anu Tuominen, Warm, cold, 2019. recovered objects.