Elina Aho-Brennan´s (b. 1981) paintings and drawings take the viewer to the embodied experience of the world and the body. She researches the embodiment of emotions, the perception of movement and the physicality of painting and drawing in her artistic practice. Her multifaceted background in the arts, psychology, neuroscience and movement practices give innate depth to her work.

She works both in drawing with self-invented charcoal tools, pencil and ink, and in painting (oil on paper and canvas, and mixed media works). She is very interested in the perceiving and experiencing part of the human psyche, and the body and mind- connection. Her abstracted paintings of the lived, bodily experience is represented simultaneously, side by side, with drawings of the human body and movement. She works with professional dancers while drawing the human body and movement.

My passion lies in exploring the interplay of line and color, movement and stillness, embodied sense of the world, life drawing and painting, and experimental inquiry of the subject.
— Elina Aho-Brennan

In her art works she strives to attack the canvas with embodied energy, sometimes soft and delicate, sometimes more aggressive and physical, while being very much in the present moment and the action of painting becoming like free association. She is also striving to obtain a very direct, physical, almost raw sense of human experience.  She is interested in portraying the life forces in  the canvases and her works can be felt via their tactile and material qualities, full of life, even erotic forces, and aggression.

Elina has graduated from the prestigious Glasgow School of Art in 2012 with Merit (Master´s Degree in Fine Art Practice, Painting) and she has held numerous solo and group exhibitions in Finland, UK, and USA. Furthermore, she has worked in collaboration with professionals from contemporary dance, physical theatre and sound art in her innovative live drawing performances.

She has been also curating both local and international exhibitions and creating an artist-led gallery space (Art Lab Viiskulma, Helsinki). Elina´s artistic practice has also formed through artist residencies abroad, at School of Visual Arts in New York (2011), Triangle Residency in Brooklyn (2015), and Royal College of Arts in London (2017). Her teaching expertise is strong and vast, with current teaching practice at The University of the Arts Helsinki and Critical Academy Helsinki. She has also worked with multiple organizations and multidisciplinary projects as an artist or a facilitator, to name a few: City of Helsinki Executive Office Young Artist 2014-2015, Climate.Now-project 2015-2016, Helsinki City Museum and Drawing D5 Gallery Embodied City- community art project 2015-2017. She has also been coaching artists and students in their work life skills, currently in collaboration with Kaakon Taide, University of the Arts Helsinki and University of Helsinki.

Experiencing art can bring forth a heightened sense of perception, a peculiar state of awareness where the now is the only thing that matters. For visual artist Elina Aho-Brennan it was the touch of charcoal on paper that initially ushered her into that state of flow and triggered a deep love for art.

After finishing her studies in psychology, she was quickly taken aloft by visual arts and graduated from the Glasgow School of Art, specializing in dealing with the concept of corporeality. In her work Aho-Brennan emphasizes the physicality of drawing and painting, endeavoring to express observations in the simplest possible way – almost as a direct nervous system reaction. Thus she utilizes experimental and performative techniques including special body extensions and automation.

To her, painting and drawing means mark making – working intuitively from direct observation. Aho-Brennan regards vision as being directly related to the viewer’s body, eyes working as the sensors of touch. This haptic visuality is central to her artistic work, as is evident in the tactility and rhythm reflected in her Extended Body series. The questions of corporeality are explored by using the artist’s own body as a tool, and by looking, we touch the objects with our eyes.
— Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, 2015