Ulla Karttunen is a multidisciplinary art pioneer and internationally acclaimed contemporary artist. She has focused on digital images, installations and socially critical projects. Her art has been seen recently in eg. London, Rome, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Zürich, Miami, Basel, Aveiro, New York, Paris, Florence, Algiers, Bologna, Ljubljana, Leipzig and Berlin.
Karttunen is a transdisciplinary avantgarde artist, or a philosopher-artist, who has combined visual and conceptual experiments, pushed boundaries of art by showing it in everyday environments (like in a gallery founded in her bedroom in Paris), or used banal, antiheroic materials like toilet paper, media junk, ketchup or nail polish in her art. Her action aims to question power relations in art and reality, and she has eg. participated in social debates concerning violence against women and pornification of society.
Karttunen’s digital collages have been described as extremely skillful and impressive, called in critiques as ”horrifyingly beautiful”. These digital paintings seem to enflesh mysterious atmosphere and carry symbolistic, surreal and poetic references, but they can also be interpreted as contemporary versions of socially engaged art, treating themes around market-based values, equality, gender, censorship, or blind spots of society. Karttunen has also lectured from these subjects in various international conferences, recentely in eg. Athens, Seoul, Prague, Yokohama, Vienna, and Beijing, and published approximately 200 essays on philosophical questions in art and society. The articles are mostly in Finnish, but also in English, Swedish, German, French, Italian, Polish and Slovenian.
Karttunen’s visual art is documented in three artist monographs. The name of one of these books, ”Ulla Karttunen, A Modern Mystic” (Publications of the Joensuu Art Museum 2011), tells of her artistic inclinations: she is not only an avantgardist or a social critic but could also be seen as a mystic or visual thinker of the digital age.
For her pioneering work in multidisciplinary art, Karttunen was awarded a 5-year artist’s grant from the beginning of 2015. She was the winner in the international contest Celeste Prize Taboo in 2016. In 2017, she was nominated finalist in 3 international art prizes. In 2019, her wide solo exhibition was presented at an art museum in Rome. In 2020, Karttunen was awarded State Artist Pension by Taike, Art Promotion Centre Finland.