Jani Leinonen - We are so sorry!

We are so sorry! 

We are very pleased to present Jani Leinonen's (1978) first solo exhibition in Norway at Høyersten Contemporary.

 

Leinonen is a Finnish artist with an international career. In addition to a number of gallery exhibitions, he has also held solo exhibitions at prestigious museums such as Kiasma and Aros and participated in important group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale. He is heavily represented at various art museums and in public and private art collections.

 

In his practice, Leinonen often pinpoints timely issues, daring the viewer to think outside of their comfort zone by taking the most saturated aspects of our modern world and re-presenting them in constantly thought-provoking ways. Inspired by popular culture, corporate brands, and marketing strategies, his artistry plays on brand recognition and how brands have become identity markers. Thus, he directs a criticism of multinational companies' dominance and impact on politics and our everyday life. What is displayed, though, are not goods but an artistic allegorization that appropriates these marketing strategies only to unhinge their underlying assumptions about value and appropriateness. His works are humorous and serious, spectacular and glamorous, despite their activist message. This has made him a favorite artist among important collectors.

 

In this exhibition, Leinonen presents light installations, wallhanged works in glass and mirror, in addition to wallhanged works in wood, and stone sculptures. For the show We are so sorry! Leinonen has especially made a series of paintings where he combines Norwegian national costumes (bunad) and vintage porn magazine images. He’s dressed up the nude, sexualized bodies in costumes packed with national connotations.

 

Ronald McDonald, Jesus and Banksy 

In January 2011, Leinonen led a group calling themselves the "Food Liberation Army". The group stole a life-size statue of Ronald McDonald from a Helsinki McDonald's restaurant, and posted videos on their website threatening to "decapitate" the clown if McDonald's would not answer questions about its ethics. However, McDonald's refused to "negotiate with criminals", and the Finnish police raided Leinonen's home, arresting two people and seizing cell phones and computers.

 

In June 2014, Leinonen's Budapest pop-up installation "Hunger King" criticized Hungary's law that banned homeless people from sleeping in public areas. The installation imitated a Burger King restaurant.

 

In December 2014, a Tokyo gallery removed Hello Kitty and Doraemon-branded shoes that were a part of Leinonen's exhibition satirising copyright laws.

 

In 2015, Leinonen was one of the artists invited to the temporary art project Dismaland organized by street artist Banksy.

 

In January 2019, Leinonen's artwork "McJesus", a crucified Ronald McDonald, caused a riot in Haifa, Israel. Hundreds of Christian protesters gathered by the Haifa Museum of Art throwing stones at the police, as they were blocked from entering the museum to remove the statue. 

 

In 2023, McJesus was exhibited in The Museu de l’Art Prohibit (Museum of Forbidden Art) in Barcelona in an exhibition devoted to previously censored art. It’s now a part of the museum's permanent collection.

 

About 

Leinonen graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2002 and his works have been exhibited widely in Finland and internationally, i.e. at the Nordic Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennial, Galerie Gmurzynska, Wilhelm Hack Museum Ludwigshafen, Frankfurter Kunstverein, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, and Haifa Art Museum. In 2015 Leinonen had a successful retrospective exhibition at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki called The school of Disobedience, which continued to ARoS Aarhus in 2016. In December 2016 Leinonen was awarded the Finland Prize by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, which is given in recognition of a significant career in arts, an exceptional artistic achievement, or a promising breakthrough.