North State: Edinburgh College of Art 2013-2014

These pieces created during Lilja’s fourth and final year in the Edinburgh College of Art make a good cross cut on her practice as a whole.  We are seeing older themes, such as a number of playthings from the artists childhood making a comeback, but these paintings are near shadowed by her large scale works depicting mundane everyday goods, commanding to be looked at.  Oftentimes the objects themselves are Finnish and painted plainly and realistically on otherwise plainly coloured canvas, without any additional shadows or illusion of depth.  With foreign text illegible to most and the blatant working class connotations associated with these items hidden from those not intimately familiar with Finnish culture, these are pieces with a secret story to tell.

“North State”, a painting of a traditional working man’s pack of fags, in Finland viewed as a smoking pleasure for the rough and the raw, symbolises the artists deprived working class background being laid bare for an audience to gawk at – something that becomes socially acceptable only when shrouded in the pretext of culture, but remains distasteful if not outright vulgar in any other context.  Elevating something mundane and under looked before a willing audience has always fascinated Lilja, and creating pieces where any deeper meaning is deliberately obscured has since become a corner stone of her painted work.

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Tiina Lilja

Painter, mother to Rusty the dog, living her best life in the South of France

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