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Paintings of Faces: The Art of Joa Korhonen

A painting of a grey face on a purple backgroundMONSIEUR, acrylic on canvas

Joa Korhonen is a musician and artist whose dual practices inform one another. The artist’s current visual practice revolves around paintings of faces, often abstracted to some degree and with expressions that seem to shift and reflect the viewer’s mindset as much as the artist’s. 

A painting of a bluish face on a natural backgroundIDENTITY 2.0, acrylic on cardboard


Korhonen works via an intuitive process, starting each with work with a “suggestion” -- a rough, gestural drawing through which the features of the finished portrait may emerge. The notion that Korhonen arrives at his compositions by observing marks applied with a degree of randomness lends a sense of autonomy and personality to these portraits. It’s as if the mysterious subjects of the images had been waiting to emerge from that blank space. 


I like the way that Korhonen is able to draw such a wide range of different appearances and expressions out of such relatively similar compositions. One may think there are only so many ways to draw a face, and yet Korhonen doesn’t seem close to exhausting that supply.

An abstract portrait made up of green strokes of paintThe Beekeeper, acrylic on paper

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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