Hanna Holma
Taidegraafikko / Printmaker


Inexhaustible joy

Hanna Holma’s works depict again and again a certain ecstatic joy in existence. It is inexhaustible, always taking new forms, bubbling over, exuberant. To anyone unfamiliar with the terrain, it may look completely imaginary, lacking all contact with reality. And to anyone familiar with the terrain, Holma’s works are entirely true, depicting something that exists without doubt and can be experienced physically and spiritually.

One of the best definitions of art I have found is: an artist makes precisely whatever they feel it necessary to make.
This, of course, says nothing about what art is, and how it differs from other ways of making whatever is felt to be necessary. But nevertheless it says at least some essential things: art is (often) deeply personal, it is open and free of preconceptions (at least it should be), it wells up from a person’s holistic experience and is not based only on the logical-rational part of the human mind. As the definition lacks a social dimension, it could perhaps be augmented as follows:
an artist makes precisely whatever they feel it necessary to make, in the social, historical, and cultural situation in which they live and work.

So why would it be necessary to depict an inexhaustible joy in existence, in the social, historical, and cultural situation in which Holma’s works have arisen? Of course, if we take our definition seriously, the justification lies primarily in the artist’s own subjective experience. But we could also consider western culture and its attachment to consumerism, economic growth, and a scientific explanation of the world. The essential factor in all these expectation horizons is the materialist anticipation of something better: material benefits will come, as long as we realize we must commit ourselves to our community as consumers, workers, or, if we are really gifted, also as those who reveal the secrets of matter and as producers of new material things. However, we need none of these in order to experience inexhaustible joy.

It is important to depict inexhaustible joy, because most people do not even believe that it exists. Most people have experienced only short moments of blinding happiness, and some not even those. Many think that these moments result from external events, such as the birth of a child, winning the lottery, or other highly fortuitous events. And even if they were to be told that these moments ultimately derive from their own thinking, most of them would, however, be unable to use this knowledge to change their state of being.

It is also important to depict inexhaustible joy, because many people do not think there is any need for it. For nearly a hundred years, psychological research has been based on the assumption of the primacy of negative feelings over positive feelings. Negative states of feeling have demanded more attention from researchers; their effects and even their evolutionary functions have been reasonably easy to determine. Positive feelings, on the other hand, have long been a kind of mystery to researchers: they have been an unexplained quirk, for which it has been difficult to find any sufficiently good reason.
Only recently have researchers realized that positive feelings too are important. They expand thought and build resources for the future. Besides many other favourable effects, they make people help each other and maintain their health.
In short, they bring out people’s most valuable qualities.

In addition to these pragmatic properties, positive thinking contains something even more important. It is closely connected to the basic values and virtues of humanity.

Hanna Holma’s works reflect a respectful and loving relationship to the world. It is a love of even the smallest shades of colour, of tinges, of areas of shadow. It is a movement that rises and bubbles over, that runs as a stream through the works. It runs in vortices into the depths of the image space and descends as light onto surfaces. It condenses into glitterings, or reaches a crescendo in buds, patches of light, or little spheres. It shows itself in small outlines, in larger shapes, and as a continuity flowing from one work to the next.

It is as if these pictures were fairy-tales. But they are not. They are true.

Jonni Roos