Oil on paper, 76 x 56 cm, 2014

(From a discussion: Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson/BB – Mika Hannula/MH – 22.9.2014)

BB: There was a flea market in Neukölln, Berlin, this is in the summer of 2013, on a hot day. I bought a pink cowboy hat for my daughter, who had for a long time wanted one. It’s a nice hat but still a plastic one or an artificial one. Somehow the hat ended up in my studio when my daughter moved abroad. I guess from the beginning, deep in my unconsciousness, I wanted to do something with it, because a cowboy hat is an object that so easily changes your image when you put it on, in terms of music or location. For some reason I thought about Madonna, and her album Music, that shows how easily just putting on a cowboy hat changes your image.

First thing I did was to photograph the hat. The photo somehow did not satisfy me, and being maybe more of a painter, I decided to paint it, starting with pink color, using only pink. Not mixing any other colors for the shadows, it was just pure pink. Then I tried several versions, of course, in my way of working, it became a series. It is fun to work with oil on paper, it only gives you a limited time and number of brush strokes, so you need to work fast. The physical aspect was pleasant – light and almost like an action painting, different form how I often work. Then the series grew into other colors, as if the pink was to limited. Instead of having 5 colors in one painting, there are 5 colors in separate works – In this case, the whole work becomes one – when the viewer mixes the colors and shapes together in his head. It sort of references the way printed material is the joining of four or more different colors.

Thinking back, they somehow function or relate to an older series of mine called Blond Nurses / Uniforms, where I painted nurse uniforms in various shapes and sizes. Nurse uniforms are image-shaping. The cowboy hats function in a similar way: they are so determing – shaping and making of the image of a person. Certain uniforms and hats can of course and are often also objects related to fetishism.


  • Helsinki Contemporary, Finland
  • ASI Art Gallery, Reykjavík