O-A: What is art to you? Is creating an urge, necessity or maybe an incontournable, essential way of life?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: Art for me is a way of living. Everything I do is somehow linked to art. It is an urge, a necessity, a way to communicate. Not only it empowers, art also heals. A saying “an apple a day keeps doctor away” can be diverted into “A drawing a day keeps doctor away”. I often visit galleries and exhibitions in museums to get inspiration or punch to paint if a motivation to work is lacking.
O-A: What wouldn’t you do without art? What did you discover, achieve with it?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: Doing art for me is more like an exploration of new fields. It is sometimes crazy how many different places mentally and physically art can bring: gives vertigo and possibilities to meet very interesting people and places. When I first entered my art school, opened for the first time the door of Brussels’ Royale Fine-Arts Academy, I felt being finally home.
I am a curious person and eager to always know some “new techniques”. I experiment in my studio by painting and drawing with different kinds materials and mediums on divers support. I like to play with the textures and effects. I have this never ending thirst to improve my art that has lead me to even doctorate studies in art.
O-A: If a person, artist or not, influenced you, what kind of question would you ask him/her?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: There are two major influencers. Both lived in 19th century: William Turner and Helene Schjerfbeck. They both share common ephemerality and sensitivity. I would like to ask them what touches them, what are the elements that moves their heart?
O-A: Who or what inspired you artistically; a person, artist, event, experience…
Anna-Maija Rissanen: There has been several artists throughout art history until today that have inspired me artistically, some completely unconscious others with more conscientious manner. However I would like to tell you about one event. About ten years ago I came to Poznan, Poland to hear a friend’s concert. I was surprised by the content. It was an experimental improvised jazz concert with self tortured, disformed musical instruments. The only way to find order in the chaotic soundscapes I found myself urged to draw the music. While the notes were transcribed on the paper through intuition I came moe connected to the music and felt the powerful energy transmitted by the musiciens.
Subsequently I fell in love with this kind of music and have done several projects and performances in transcribing music and sounds, especially contemporary chamber music and board meetings. While transcribing with a marker pen a person’s speech I have realised that I can capture speaker’s personality in lines. The image that comes is abstract or semi-abstract. I do these drawings either on white paper or on an existing painting or monotype that I choose in correlation to the mood emitted by the soundscape.
O-A: What is a vivid memory of a remark concerning your art that got stuck with you?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: When I was just a young starting artist, someone told me that I’m a messenger that my art works have a condensed time. What surprises me always is to see how my art touches people. How they say that my art works calm them down and empowers. There’s always somes who shred into tears in front of my paintings, and I wonder how powerful can art be. What a blessing having this gift. How my art touches others is my gasoline and keeps me working when I feel everything is useless.
O-A: What was the most interesting statement you heard about your work?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: Someone told me that in one of my paintings he saw his childhood places where he used to play. Then there was an other painting which name I had to change to Fantasy as so many came to tell me so many different kind of stories what they saw in it. One for instance told seeing a battle field in relation to Finnish history, and other one about his pets and other animals.
O-A: How do you search for inspiration and themes for your work?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: Nature is my endless source of inspiration and through time I have encountered in my works several other topics and themes that haven’t had time to sought through well. Such as transparency (being transparent, see through, duality, ephemeralilty), reflections (working with mirrors), mystery, oddness, humanity, and all what these topics implicate at deeper level. Seeds to these themes date back to 2007/2010 already.
O-A: How has your art changed over time? Why?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: The colour scheme has changed from cold blue scheme to more colourful warm colours. This change started in 2015 during the artist’s residency in Spain. It’s related to painting and drawing materials I had on my possession such as wax pastels for kids in bright colours. During these ten years my work has been shifting between figuration and abstraction. When I feel less secure in my life, I tend to rely on more figuration, heavy rocks, on which to lean on. Happiness and feel on freedom in my life brings urge of abstraction. There’s no need to control.
O-A: What names do you give your artworks?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: Naming can sometimes be very problematic and can take time. Sometimes the work itself gives it, sometimes they are related to a theme.
O-A: What do you usually talk about with your collectors?
Anna-Maija Rissanen: I talk about how the art work was created. I tell them on what I’m working at the moment, tell them about upcoming events, exhibitions.