On view at Karma, Henni Alftan’s first U.S. solo show features new paintings by the Paris-based Finnish artist depicting moments both absorbing and quotidian.
“I paint pictures,” Alftan says of her work. Her practice is observation-based, drawing from her perceptions of the world around her and its representations. She is interested in the moment in which interpretation begins: when an image emerges from the brushstrokes and the paint. For Alftan, the distinction between painting and pictures lies in the awareness of the image-making.
This exhibition plumbs the tension of visual representation with paintings that unfold slowly, almost meditatively. Alftan depicts familiar scenes: rain slanting across a green field, a bag slung over a fuzzy sweater, an Aspirin held delicately between two fingers. With their smoothly flattened forms and undefined outlines, Alftan’s paintings appear unfinished at first glance. With a second look, however, unexpected textural details and patterns emerge. These paintings encourage close observation and invite viewers to take the time to linger before the canvas, to become absorbed and look awhile.
Henni Alftan, Morning Sun, 2020. Oil on canvas, 51 3⁄8 × 76 3⁄4 inches.