“See something you want, take it for a ride, have some fun with it and then ditch it. That’s what we do with everything these days.” Viper met Finnish artist Annu Kilpeläinen just before the opening of her new solo show, Joyride, which is full of angular cars, endless highways and glowing horizons. Her unmistakable automobiles (never named, but think sleek 1980s BMWs) have been hijacked and they’re speeding full throttle along the open road. As she says, “Joyriding is so similar to how we all behave. Everything’s so full on, but it’s so temporary – you’re always already onto the next thing.”

Cars have long been the protagonists of Annu’s work: she draws them hiding among fields of flowers, diving into swimming pools, nestling under a tree’s falling blossom. How did boxy saloons become her chosen language to convey ideas? She giggles as she tells me she’s never owned a car and spends most days nipping between studio and home on her
bicycle. “When I draw, I’m not thinking about the car so much as the person inside.”

There’s a fascination with the culture around D.I.Y. mods and tuning cars, born from watching the brother of a childhood friend obsessively tinker under his bonnet. “It’s such a funny relationship; the car becomes a part of you.” If you’re making work about devoted car culture and the thrill of the open road, California is a pretty good place to have an exhibition. Annu’s show opened in LA this September and it’s the first glimpse of an entirely new body of work, including experiments in sculpture – “I wanted to make a car-crash out of clay, but it has to be small enough to take in my suitcase on the plane.” It’s clear the location for the show has seeped into her drawings, which are full of lurid billboards, sun-soaked mountains and glamorous passengers. She
explains, “It’s my idealised vision of LA. I think if I’d done the same theme somewhere else – say a joyride exhibition in Helsinki – it would have looked totally different.”

Annu’s enthusiasm is infectious in conversation and in her drawings. Although Joyride may evoke the fleeting thrill of being infatuated with ideas, she’s been fascinated by the cars and colours in her work for many years. “I am maybe obsessed, but that’s another thing I love about the culture of tuning cars – people get obsessed. I love when anyone gets really into one specific thing. Like, wow, you devote your life to this one thing? Though I guess people could say the same thing about me and art. Like, you really just sit there drawing all day every day?”

This is an extract from Issue 8, The Nomad Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.

Words by Alice Primrose
Images by Annu Kilpeläinen


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