UPCOMING: MAIJA BLÅFIELD
The core themes in the works of Maija Blåfield (born 1973) are the ambiguity of reality and humans’ relationship with their surroundings. The exhibition features both moving images and photography.
While the works are filmed in different parts of the world, their exact location is not precisely defined. Instead, the central element is our everyday observation and experiencing it in a different way. In spite of the serious tone and topics of her craft, Blåfield’s documentary works always include a notion of subtle humour, as it is also essential to reality.
Alongside new works, the exhibition features Blåfield’s films from the years 2005–2020.
Every year, the Finnish Art Society organises a large-scale exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki. Tarja Pitkänen-Walter’s exhibition will open in January 2022.
In the work of visual artist Tarja Pitkänen-Walter (b. 1960), the multisensoriality, materiality and spatiality of painting play a central role. She works on site-specific expanded paintings using a wealth of techniques with great attention to the use of the space and its architecture.
The exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki will comprise different experiential spaces, each with their own theme and personality. The exhibition will feature works by Pitkänen-Walter from the 1960s to the present day, including completely new works that have been specifically created for the Kunsthalle’s rooms.
Pitkänen-Walter has been a professor in painting at Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts since 2006. She also works as an arts teacher and as an invited expert in various positions of responsibility. Her work has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Finland and internationally since the early 1980s.
The Paul Osipow (b. 1939) retrospective presents an impressive cross-section of works by one of Finland’s leading painters. Osipow’s early travels in Europe and the United States have had a lasting impact on his art, and throughout his career he has drawn inspiration from various periods in art history, ranging from modernism all the way back to Classical Antiquity. The Kunsthalle retrospective features Osipow’s geometrical and free-form abstract paintings as well as his still life compositions, female figures and other figurative classic motifs spanning from the 1960s to the present day.
Osipow graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 1962. Since the 1960s, he has shown his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Finland and abroad. He has also made a significant contribution as an educator at various art institutes. During his 60-year career, Osipow has won numerous awards including the Finnish Art Society’s Ducat Prize in 1966, a 15-year art grant from the Finish State in 1985, and the Prince Eugen medal in 1989. The exhibition is produced by the Finnish Art Society and curated by Kari Kenetti.
Tommi Grönlund’s (b. 1967) and Petteri Nisunen’s (b. 1962) exhibition showcases the artist duo’s production from the past two decades. Balancing between art and science, the two artists play with physical phenomena such as gravity, magnetism and light. Sound offers another important dimension to their work.
The retrospective exhibition features key pieces from Grönlund–Nisunen, as well as brand new work. The exhibition also includes many works previously unseen in Finland, such as an installation made for the 2001 Venice Biennale.
Collaborating since the 1990s, the duo has received several acknowledgments for their work both in Finland and abroad, such as the State Art Prize in Finland in 2001, and the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts, granted by the World Cultural Council in 2013. The artists have made several public artworks: the newest will be seen at the Keilaniemi metro station in Espoo.
Time Flies. A Highlight
Finnish Art Society’s exhibition Esko Männikkö – Time Flies goes on an international tour:
Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy 17.5.–27.9.2015
Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, Netherlands 11.9.–6.12.2015
Göteborgin taidemuseo, Göteborg, Sweden 13.2.–8.5.2016
Photographer Esko Männikkö’s retrospective exhibition brings together an unprecedented number of his works ranging from the early 1980s to the present.
Männikkö has lived in the north, working as a photographic artist outside the trends and established institutions of photography. Yet he is one of the internationally most famous Finnish photographers and has often exhibited his work abroad.
Männikkö’s interest in photography grew from early hunting trips. Animal hunting metamorphosed into picture hunting, when Männikkö was printing black-and-white photographs in his school’s photography club and became enthralled by the way pictures appeared on paper. As a photographer, Männikkö is self-taught. His breakthrough came in 1995 when he was nominated Young Artist of the Year in Finland. In the prize exhibition, he presented a series of photographs of bachelors from the north of Finland; a show that made a lasting impression on many. Männikkö has subsequently had no major solo exhibitions in Finland.
The framing, hanging and rhythm of Männikkö’s exhibitions is quite unique. The photographs are independent artworks while also being part of an extended series and even a dialogue between different series. The oldest works in this exhibition are from the series When Time Stops Still. Shot in the early 1980s, the black-and-white pictures record the determination and resilience of a family living in the remote village of Särkijärvi in northern Finland. The latest works in the retrospective are from the series Blues Brothers that puts the viewer face to face with lifeless human figures photographed in Italian cemeteries. Männikkö’s pictures make no attempt to conceal the efforts of modern culture to wipe out the passage of time and its traces. Männikkö immerses himself into the places and details he photographs, respectfully highlighting the mundane in everyday life. Whether the subject is alive or inanimate, human or animal, Männikkö paints its with light, bringing out its beauty through his lens. Although Männikkö’s visual style has changed over time and his themes have become increasingly metaphorical, he has retained his interest in everyday life, outsiders and marginalised people.
Esko Männikkö (b. 1959 in Pudasjärvi, Finland) lives and works in Oulu. He has several solo and group shows to his credit, particularly abroad, and he has work in many international and Finnish collections. He is also the recipient of the prestigious international Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2008).
After Kunsthalle Helsinki, the exhibition will go on an international tour. Two tour venues have been confirmed so far: Turku Art Museum (16 May–14 September 2014) and Gothenburg Museum of Art (13 February–8 May 2016).
The horrible and the comical merge in the works of Elina Merenmies.
The works of Elina Merenmies tell fascinating stories about the world, showing how everyday things can become channels leading into the wildest visions of the imagination. With their unique blend of humour, surprise, belief and wonder, the works ensure Merenmies a place among the most original artists in Finland today. The exhibition will open in Kunsthalle Helsinki on 21 January 2012.
Secret Joy at Kunsthalle Helsinki is the most extensive solo exhibition of Elina Merenmies to date in Finland. It includes more than 80 works from the early stages of Merenmies’ career in the late 1980s, as well as her latest pieces, such as paintings featuring a rich palette. The exhibition also includes a unique painting installation which represents a fresh departure for the artist. Paying homage to the architecture and classical galleries of the Kunsthalle building, the total work of art combines the artist’s existing paintings with a piece painted on the gallery wall.
According to Merenmies, the title of the exhibition, Secret Joy, is a reference to how things happen in works of art which are surprising even to the artist herself, and lead to the discovery of beauty in unexpected places. “The works of Elina Merenmies most often make the viewer conscious of beauty in horror, or the dignity of the victim,” writes Juha-Heikki Tihinen in the exhibition catalogue.
Works by Elina Merenmies are eminently recognisable, like old acquaintances. The artist’s interest in the tradition of expressive art, outsider art and old Flemish painting are apparent in her paintings as well as her works on paper.
In the catalogue, Antti Nylén describes Merenmies’ art: “I see a kind of ‘path of development’ from metaphysical horror of the early works of the 1990s – Birds, Worm and Bees – through Facts of Life and a few Teddy bear motifs to the most recent ink drawings, in which the horror has abated and there is physical peace; flesh is now contemplated without revulsion, peacefully, as it is (Hair, White Phosphorus…). Ugliness stops being ugly when one has the courage to look at it. It receives grace. We are indeed allowed be twisted, leaking, bulging and so on…”
Elina Merenmies is a Helsinki-based artist who graduated with a Master’s degree from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 1999. She also studied at the Drawing Department of the University of Helsinki in 1987, at the Institut de Saint-Luc in Brussels from 1988–1989, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague from 1991–1992. She has work in key museum collections in Finland, and also in many museum and private collections abroad. Elina Merenmies was an Ars Fennica nominee in 2007, and she has been a member of the Ars Fennica prize committee since 2009. Merenmies was awarded the William Thuring Prize in 2009, and the Stina Krook Prize in 2010.
The exhibition curated by Juha-Heikki Tihinen, PhD.
Export – Import
Finnish artists have been studying art abroad all around Europe in different countries through the ages. The fine art life of the periferic Finland was late developed and served a living to only a few artists, which meant that going elsewhere was a natural and compelling choice. Foreign academies and art schools served up-to-date education, and adoption to the newest streams in art was only possible in the pulsating atmosphere of the metropolis. Stoockholm, St.Petersburg, Dresden, Rome, Firenze ja Paris functioned as educators and inspiration sources for many Finnish artists. After the world wars the nerve center of art shifted to New York and then to London.
Nowadys the "hottest" centers of art life are changing rapidly, for there's a need to always find something new. Periphery has for long time been seen as interesting center of contemporary art, including also Finland and Helsinki. At the moment the Mecca of the visual arts is Berlin, where also dozens of Finnish artists work today.
Export - Import presents Finnish contemporary artists, who educate themselves, live and/or work on abroad permanently or longer periods in international residencies. The exhibition addresses these's artists' relation to making art in an international surroundings –as well as their relation to the distant homeland and its art field. In the exhibition consists of the work of Adel Abidin, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Elina Brotherus, Minna L. Henriksson, Gun Holmström, Laura Horelli, Hannu Karjalainen, Ola Kolehmainen, Pia Lindman, Robert Lucander, Kirsi Mikkola, Pilvi Takala and Kristiina Uusitalo. The exhibition is curated by the director of the Taidehalli, Maija Koskinen.
Tomorrow today will be yesterday
The Finnish Art Society produces Anu Tuominen’s (b. 1961) exhibition in 2020. The exhibition will feature a pick of her popular classics alongside a selection of newer works. Tuominen is known as one of Finland’s leading conceptual artists and as an artist who resurrects discarded items salvaged from flea markets. She plays with the colours and shapes of familiar everyday objects such as potholders, buttons and coloured pencils, combining them cleverly with words and ideas.
Anu Tuominen graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 1995. She is the winner of the 2003 Ars Fennica prize and she has exhibited extensively both in Finland and abroad.
Writing My Diary
EGS is remarkable not simply because he has painted all over the world; over five continents and more than forty countries from Bucharest to Buenos Aires and Shanghai to Santiago. He has also painted with everyone from all over the world; from Ket to Lodek, Rainman to Risk, Petro to Pike and Honet to Hes. In recent years, he has successfully expanded his artistic range into more traditional artforms, such as sculptures and works in ink.
Writing My Diary is the most extensive compilation of EGS’s output to date. In recent years, his art has been shown in galleries and museums in Finland and abroad. His works are also in numerous public and private collections. EGS has also carried out public commissions, such as wall paintings for Vantaa Prison and the HUS hospital.
Jussi Heikkilä does not cease to surprise. The retrospective exhibition portrays works by the pioneering Finnish conceptual artist from the four past decades. Included are also some brand new works.
Heikkilä’s oeuvre is characterized by the inspection of the relations of man with nature. A part of the works highlights an ecological concern, but they are also in-depth meditations on the relationship between nature and culture.
The materials used in the works are diverse, for instance: bladderwrack seaweed, rubies, books, stuffed birds – as a passionate bird enthusiast, Heikkilä’s work often centers around these animals in one way or another. The exhibition sheds light on the backgrounds of his work, as well as on the reflective and insightful nature of his artistic thinking.
The artist’s work has gained significant recognition throughout his long career, such as the Finnish State Prize for Visual Arts in 2000, and an Ars Fennica nomination in 1997. Heikkilä has produced several public art works in Jyväskylä and Helsinki, as well as in Denmark.
HELENA HIETANEN, JAAKKO NIEMELÄ
Chaos & Beauty
The year 2015 in Kunsthalle Helsinki begins with a show of light and shadow that extends all the way to the building’s exterior. The common theme in the art of Helena Hietanen and Jaakko Niemelä is light. The exhibition includes landmark works as well as audience favourites from the careers of both artists. A new installation will also be produced in the sculpture gallery.
The artist couple Hietanen and Niemelä work together, separately and in parallel. Chaos & Beauty represents a condensation of their life during the last 18 years – Niemelä and Hietanen have never needed to search far for ideas for their work.
Sphinxes, ibises, lotuses – and feline beasts, of course. Leena Luostarinen’s long-awaited retrospective exhibition includes classic pieces as well as surprises from the artist’s career spanning 40 years.
Leena Luostarinen’s powerful and colourful paintings have touched and even shocked Finnish art audiences for decades. Produced by the Finnish Art Society, this major retrospective in Kunsthalle Helsinki presents nearly a hundred works, showcasing Luostarinen’s unique character as a painter, both wild and gentle at the same time.
The exhibition showcases the scope of Luostarinen’s career from the breakthrough works of the 1970s to the most recent paintings. In addition to the master of monumental cat pieces, the exhibition also features a more intimate and subtler side of Luostarinen: sensitive watercolours and lyrical paintings that effectively counter-balance the idea of Luostarinen as an explosive expressionist. The show also includes sketchbooks that offer a glimpse into the artist’s creative process.
The exhibition is curated by art critic Otso Kantokorpi.
Hurtta, poika ja lum'ukko
The sculptor Pekka Kauhanen is at Kunsthalle Helsinki, creating worlds that tempt us to hilarious interpretations, worlds that at the least cannot be accused of being humourless or narrow-minded.
Pekka Kauhanen (b. 1954) is one of Finland’s leading and most original sculptors. Over thirty years, the carnival of themes in his sculptures has ranged from representational figures, torsos and dogs to abstract spirals of thought and back to the representational again. His new figures are headless suit men, smiling boys and snowmen. “I am (at most) a magical realist”, Kauhanen says in the catalogue.
Out of the disorderly eclecticism of his themes at Kunsthalle Helsinki Kauhanen constructs integrated wholes, in which individual sculptures combine to form tribes in a Kauhanen-esque fantasy world. This exhibition produced by the Finnish Art Association presents Kauhanen’s main themes starting from the 1980s, but the main emphasis is on the latest bronze and aluminium figures from the 2000s.
The start of the 2000s was a time when Kauhanen’s art lost its head, as Altti Kuusamo writes in the exhibition catalogue. The sculpture’s head was on its shoulder, hidden by foam, or absent altogether, as it was from the empty-jacketed suit men (2002). In 2003, the first top-hatted Snowman, the antithesis of dignity, appeared in Kauhanen’s world. The Snowman nation is still growing, since Kauhanen constantly modifies, develops and remodels his central themes.
The sculptural clans given birth to by Kauhanen in the 2000s also include ultra-positive ‘boys, who take on the world in the grip of innocent enthusiasm. The Art Police (2006) at the Tapiola traffic roundabout smiles uninhibitedly so that his teeth show. The Sun Boy sculpture (2007–2010), which is so bright that it is almost unbearable to Finns!, will be having exploits in various parts of Helsinki during the Kunsthalle exhibition!
Pekka Kauhanen is also known for his numerous public works, for instance, the controversial Urho Kekkonen memorial Big Time (1990) in Kajaani. The artist himself explained the work’s disputed hour-glass-like, spiral shape: as “a living likeness of Kekkonen’s time and thinking”. Also striding into the exhibition from that same breakthrough period is Sweet-Smelling Step, a public statue sited in Kurkimäki in Helsinki.
Kauhanen’s sculptures might be enigmatic, strange even, but it is easy to approach them. The sculpture figures conceal within them a mischief that often brings a smile of recognition to viewers’ lips. “If the Savo mentality were cast as a sculpture, it would use Pekka Kauhanen’s form language,” Vexi Salmi has quipped. The works are interpretatively permissive – playfulness seems to be the life-blood both of Kauhanen’s sculptures and of the public’s interpretations. So, let the game begin, there’s plenty of room for interpretation!