The portraits in the exhibition represent the loved ones artist Jesse Avdeikov misses in different ways and for different reasons.

“In my mind, I’m building a place that I first imagined as a cottage. Then, it became an island that I can visit when I want. A place for memories and past events. I exclude them from my normal daily life as tangibly as is possible with things that exist inside your head. Despite my best efforts, I can’t separate the bad memories from the good. Grief and joy can be experienced side by side.

The significance of a person, a pet or a place mostly exists in our heads. The purpose of the island was to bring be comfort and maybe some peace of mind, but what comfort is a place that symbolises my grandfather’s cancer, my grandmother’s dementia and my friend’s suicide?

I paint them by turns, one by one. I imagine them like trees whose thinning branches and roots take hold in my memories and in the nooks and crannies of my mind. They are part of me. The island starts to transform into a kind of forest. The dead trees in the forest decay and turn into nutrients and a new cycle begins. The forest brings me comfort, even though it is also full of death in its own way.

When I paint these portraits, I feel closer to them and their memory. Luckily, I can also remember good things, such as my granny’s all-encompassing love and her apple pie, my grandfather teaching me that nearly everything can be fixed (or you can at least try), and my friend’s influence on my art.”

Jesse Avdeikov (1986) is a visual artist whose techniques include painting, writing, embroidery, animation and installations. His work is based on narratives and an autobiographical approach. In his art, he explores subjects such as friendship, different ways of living, the importance of enjoying life, loneliness, birth and death. He draws inspiration from YouTube videos, classical art, dogs, melancholy ruminations and the absurd aspects of life. Avdeikov completed his Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts under the University of the Arts Helsinki in June 2020. The exhibition has been supported by the Finnish Art Society.