Riikka Hyvönen Finnish, b. 1982


These days, derby girls from around the world send me photos of their trophies. I am deeply honoured to be able to turn some of them into art.

Riikka Hyvönen is a Finnish artist based in London. Her work was popularised through her Roller Derby sculptural painting series.


"This project began from a realisation: I wanted to capture the momentary marks and bruises from within the subculture of derby players. That's where my investigation of the psychology of bruises started, in an effort to portray them in a completely different light to mainstream culture."


"For me, roller derby is really all about the community. If a derby player gets hit in the game, she wants to show her bruised bum for her team members (and then reach some well-deserved admiration on the internet). These bruises are called derby kisses. They are little love bites and badges of honour.


Each of the gigantic 3D artworks is based on a real photograph. "I have a really beautiful bruise on my bum. Do you want to see a pic?" A friend once posted on my FB wall. "It has 12 colors and is the size of my head." I said yes, I definitely want to have a look. In the end, this comment of hers also became the name of the work.


In order to create a derby kiss, Hyvönen uses wood, MDF, leather, glitter, and various tools from paintbrushes to jigsaw pieces. I need to break the surface of the leather, then paint it, then break it and paint it again - and repeat the process dozens of times in order to create a picture, as hypnotising on canvas as on the skin. Through making artworks of large scale, with a remarkable amount of sparkle, glitter and colour, I objectify the girls as they do themselves, in a positive light. With the kitsch, tacky, thoroughly questionable elegance, my aim is to capture the unapologetic representation of beauty that roller derby is all about."