Apr 4, 2013

A Storied Life

Swedish Artist Lisa Rinnevuo’s stylized aesthetic – reminiscent equally of Tween-friendly Anime and forlorn Neo Goth – strikes a curious balance between the concrete and the metaphysical, the urban and the ethereal.

Born prematurely, Rinnevuo internalized fables of imps and fairies wholeheartedly as a child – secretly identifying her small statured-self with these for a strikingly colorful inner-life. “I was a daydreamer as a kid,” recalls Rinnevuo, “living in my imaginary world all the time.”

Forever mythologizing, the artist recounts how she came to be named as though it were folklore as well. Implausibly small, no other moniker than Lisa (for Thumb Lisa, Sweden’s Thumbelina) would do according to her. Unsurprisingly, Rinnevuo dreamed of penning fairy tales from a very early age.

However, an exhibition of the work of John Bauer – the Swedish illustrator renowned for his mythological ensorcelled forests – inspired Rinnevuo to try her hand at art, sketching trolls and fairies at a preternatural pace. And when a friend unveiled a book on NYC street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, the painter’s future appeared set in concrete. “Something happened inside of me then and there. I became an artist – because I knew with every cell in my body that I would make paintings.”

Rinnevuo’s repertoire has always enjoyed a generous cult following in Northern Europe. But in 2006, select pieces were chosen by an architecture firm for use as décor in a remake of an original Lundby dollhouse – the pioneering Swedish manufacturers of miniature homes. Eventually, the hands-on artist found herself redecorating Lundby interiors as well; collaborations which have done particularly well at Christies auctions – prompting a recent feature of her work in Swedish Elle Interior.

However, this mother-of-one’s real life approach to child’s play is somewhat more modest. “I love the way kids use their imagination. My 4-year-old daughter plays with nail polish bottles and candleholders for hours!”

“Children are my biggest inspiration,” she continues. “To see my daughter build a fantasy world out of ordinary things – their way of seeing the world with such purity and curiosity is truly inspiring!”

Incurably optimistic, Rinnevuo incorporates positive abstractions within her text-laden canvases – words that could inspire self-esteem in even the most at risk preadolescent. “Become your dream”, “Stay pure”, “Fuck the mainstream” and “Keep your fire burning are just some of the maxims applied in her moodily girlish work – albeit in a highly urban graffiti-style. “I’m a true believer in positive thinking and Karma,” she affirms, “ that’s also what I convey with my art”.

With any hope, Rinnevuo’ s Karma will bring her full circle to revisit her childhood dream. “I recently designed costumes and scenery for a dance performance for young children and I have an exhibition coming up in Stockholm with Konstochfolk Gallery this fall. But I still have that dream to write a fairytale. It has taken me forty years and I´m still not done. Talk about the project of a lifetime!”

-Larissa Zaharuk

More of Lisa Rinnevuo here: http://www.lisarinnevuo.com