Ilona Niemi (born 1975 in Piikkiö, Finland, lives and works in Salo, Finland) graduated as a Master of Fine Arts from SIUC, USA, in 2007, and as a Bachelor (Hons) of Fine Art from Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2001.
Niemi's main interest lies in the construction of femininity. Inspired by Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus, she is intrigued by the artificiality of femininity, the carnivalesque creation of gender. Her works have also a personal dimension: Niemi's friend disappeared in 1988, throwing a dark shadow on her happy childhood memories, and encouraging the artist to revise her past. As a result, darkness hides under a beautiful and sometimes humorous coating in Niemi's work. Cutting is a vital part of her process: she creates through the process of destruction. Niemi's art is a continuation of childhood play: a space for freedom and anarchy.
Niemi says: 'I gain inspiration from Marguerite Duras, T. S. Eliot, Hannah Höch, Yayoi Kusama, Alice Neel, Chantal Joffe, Björk, Young Fathers, medical books, fashion, thrift stores
and life in general'.
EXHIBITION HISTORY IN BRIEF
Ilona Niemi's latest solo exhibitions have been at Joensuu Art Museum, Finland, in 2018 and Muu Gallery in Helsinki in 2017. Her artwork has been exhibited in several group shows internationally, such as the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 2002, Le papier (part) deux, at Gescheidle Gallery in Chicago, 2007, and Futile Matters at Turku Art Museum, Finland, in 2007. She has won awards such as the Royal Scottish Academy Painting Prize and Maclaine & Watters Medal. A catalogue Ilona Niemi WasteLand was published in conjunction with Niemi's solo exhibition at Salo Art Museum in 2014, funded by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.