Saturday, November 16, 2013

A day at galleries and exhibitions in Helsinki

Tuomo Rainio: Marble Stairs, 2013
HD digital video. Galerie Anhava.

Muriel Kuoppala: Gate #7, 2013
oil and ink on unprimed canvas. Galerie Anhava. Click to enlarge.
Emil Westman Hertz: Face of Another II, 2013
vitrine, beeswax, polystyrene, paper. Galerie Anhava.Click to enlarge.

Anssi Pulkkinen & Taneli Rautiainen: Departures (Sign) [detail], 2013
aluminium, acrylic, engraving. Galerie Anhava. Click to enlarge.
I started the day at the Erkki Kurenniemi exhibition at Kiasma and continued at the linked exhibition Mika Taanila: Time Machines (see two Erkki Kurenniemi and two Mika Taanila comments below).

GALERIE ANHAVA (Mannerheiminaukio 3)
Next door, Galerie Anhava presented EMERGING 2013, new talent. Muriel Kuoppala's paintings are playful patterns. Tuomo Rainio's video art presents uncannily deformed human figures. Emil Westman Hertz creates assemblages from organic and unorganic materials. Anssi Pulkkinen and Taneli Rautiainen work in conceptual art, transforming the space itself.

Pekka Halonen: Auringonlasku Tuusulanjärvellä / [Sunset at Lake Tuusula], 1902. Private collection. Photo: Valtion taidemuseo, Kuvataiteen keskusarkisto / Kirsi Halkola. Click to enlarge.
Pekka Halonen: Uimaan lähdössä / [Going for a Swim], 1910. Private collection
Photo: Tuusula Museum / Matti Ruotsalainen. Click to enlarge.
Ateneum presents a new montage for an exhibition from the Golden Age of Finnish art, a huge crowd-pleaser, also drawing a lot of children today. "Järven lumo" / ["Spellbound by the Lake"] covers the legendary artists' community around Lake Tuusula in the end of the 1890s and in the early decades of the 1900s: Juhani Aho & Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, Pekka Halonen, Jean Sibelius, Eero Järnefelt, J. H. Erkko, and Eino Leino were there. Such a concept provides an opportunity to revisit favourite classics and introduce unknown works on themes such as childhood, home, studio, and the nature. Full of detail about the daily life, the families and the friendships, about art as a way of life during the incubation period of Finnish independence. Curated by Riitta Konttinen and Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff. There is also a splendid new exhibition book by Riitta Konttinen: Onnellista asua maalla / [Happy to Live in the Country]. Siltala, 2013. Pekka Halonen's nature paintings were my favourites today.

Marie Brask: Italian and other gardens. Taidesalonki. Click to enlarge.
Taidesalonki had an opening today: 25 paintings by Marie Brask from "Italian and other gardens", all painted this year. It was a cool and refreshing visit into a blue world of gardens and waterlilies.

Tähtitiet / Stjernvägar. Carolus Enckell. 2013
Gouache on plywood, balsa. Galerie Forsblom.
Ron Gorchov at Galerie Forsblom. Click to enlarge.
GALERIE FORSBLOM (Lönnrotinkatu 5)
Galerie Forsblom has two hot exhibitions. Carolus Enckell's Open Symbols exhibition presents conceptual art: paintings, aquarelles, gouache works. Works for thinking and meditation. Ron Gorchov's Recent Paintings includes colourful, starkly reduced organic forms on saddle-form canvases.

Sam Vanni: Portrait of Tove Jansson, 1940. Oil on canvas. Photo: Kari Siltala / Amos Anderson Art Museum. Click to enlarge. They were lovers at the time.

I finished the day with four exhibitions at Amos Anderson, all full of discoveries.

PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST is a delightful and inspiring selection. It presents self-portraits of artists ranging from Sulho Sipilä and Åke Mattas to Rabbe Enckell and Jalmari Ruokokoski but also portraits of artists as models such as Sam Vanni's portrait of Tove Jansson in the year 1940.
Jeppe Hein: Smoking Bench (2002). Courtesy: Johann König, Berlin and 303 Gallery, New york. Photo: Ole Hein Pederson. Amos Anderson Art Museum. Click to enlarge.
JEPPE HEIN: THERE ARE NO ORDINARY MOMENTS. I sat on the smoking bench. I approached the mirror which started to vibrate. I looked at the screw on the wall which screwed itself. I looked into the hole and saw my own eye in the tiny mirror beyond. Everyday magic they call this.

August Uotila: Seine-fishing on the Shore of Corsica, 1886. Yleisradio. Photo: Ilari Järvinen. Amos Anderson Art Museum. Click to enlarge.
AUGUST UOTILA (1858–1886), PAINTER OF THE GIRL WITH ORANGES, curated by Synnöve Malmström, the first true Uotila exhibition in Helsinki in over a hundred years. One of the founders of the "Golden Age" of Finnish painting, Uotila was influenced by the realism of Frenchmen and painted a lot in France, Italy, and Corsica. He painted both in Bretagne and the Riviera, both summer views and winter scenes. The orange girl may be his finest work. He loved to paint children and fishermen, and he brought a Manet touch to his views of Finnish landscapes. He, too, had an artist as a model: Amélie Lundahl painting in Brittany.
Onni Oja: Forest Work, 1953. Oil on canvas. Stora Enso Finland's Art Foundation. Photo: Rauno Träskelin. Amos Anderson Art Museum. Click to enlarge.
METSÄRETKI / FOREST OUTING. I was about to call it a day, but fortunately Anton Asikainen tipped me that the best is yet to come. "Metsäretki" / "Forest Outing" is an inspired exhibition following a special "forest map" which takes us to romantic landscapes by Berndt Lindholm, to the Nordic shaman Reidar Särestöniemi, to the wintry scenes of Pekka Halonen (again today!) and Jussi Mäntynen, to the majestic birds of Lennart Segerstråle and to the zoologically accurate illustrations of the brothers von Wright. A good combination of magic and realism, also with a room dedicated to the hard work of forestry workers and lumberjacks. My favourite is the sculpture of the mama bear with two little cubs playing on its back. This exhibition has been especially planned for children with a special book and many interesting activities. An attractive concept to introduce art for children.
Galerie Forsblom, October 25–November 17, 2013

Ron Gorchov: Recent Paintings

In addition to their colour, Ron Gorchov’s (b. 1930) oil paintings’ exceptional shape captures the viewer’s attention. The artist stretches his canvas over a curved frame and then paints expressive installations on it. Galerie Forsblom’s exhibition is the first ever in Finland to exhibit Gorchov’s idiosyncratic paintings.

Gorchov, who is known as an uncompromising modernist, seeks to accomplish the essence of abstract form with his paintings. The artist has, however, abandoned geometry typical to modernism and shifted towards a more biomorphic form. The patterns of the paintings resemble living organisms, and thus they describe the beginning of a certain formative state. These questions of form and existence materialize into works of art through the use of bold brushstrokes.

The content of Gorchov’s paintings can be found in the interaction between optics and viewer perception. The saddle-like canvas has replaced the traditional rectangular base due to the curved shape’s ability to catch the viewer’s absorption capacity faster than a rectangle. The paintings’ play with symmetry and asymmetry are all the more remarkable when the work and its associations allow for interpretation. Gorchov’s expression is free from the shackles of absolutism.

Gorchov’s works have been enchanting audiences since the 1960s, and he has a widespread international following. Gorchov has been influenced by post-informalism and abstract expressionism, and his paintings are included in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Guggenheim’s collections, among others. Gorchov lives and works in New York.


Why do artists make self-portraits? Is it to comment on their profession, to explore the deepest crevices of their souls or is it merely a question of having an accessible and affordable model? These are some of the questions visitors can ponder at the Amos Anderson Art Museum. The theme of the exhibition – Portrait of an Artist – is self-portraiture in Finnish painting over the past 100 years.

Amos Anderson Art Museum has in its possession hundreds of artist portraits – oil paintings, water colours, and drawings– a quarter of which are on view in the current exhibition. The exhibition includes the artists William Lönnberg, Jalmari Ruokokoski, Sigrid Schauman, Sulho Sipilä, and Rabbe Enckell as well as contemporary artists Henrika Lax and Pauliina Turakka-Purhonen. Other treats from the collection include colouristic self-portraits in water colour by Olli Lyytikäinen as well as sculptor Felix Nylund's drawings of himself in the most bizarre situations, and Åke Mattas' portrayal of himself and his friends after a drunken night on the town in the iconic "In the Taxi".

Apart from self-portraits, the exhibition also includes portraits of artists by their colleagues and friends, e.g. Sam Vanni's portrait of a young Tove Jansson. The model- artist wrote in her diary: "It is so warm here. At nightfall Samuel gathers his brushes, and with a joy that aches when I look at his painting, it is clear to me that it could not be that beautiful did he not love me."

August Uotila
Painter of Girl with Oranges (1858–1886)
6 September 2013 – 13 January 2014

The Amos Anderson Art Museum presents the first extensive exhibition of work by August Uotila (1858–1886) to be held in Helsinki for over a hundred years.

August Uotila painted the signature work of the exhibition, Girl with Oranges, in Paris in 1879. The poignant painting is a rarely exhibited gem of Finnish art, but the same can be said to apply to the art of August Uotila in general: no major exhibition of Uotila's work has been held in Helsinki since his memorial exhibition in 1886.

Uotila belonged to the generation of artists that gave birth to the concept of the "Golden Age of Finnish Art". Born in Urjala in 1858, Uotila was constantly searching for new influences in the contemporary art scene. He was one of the first to apply the latest movements of the age to Finnish subjects. All of Uotila's work is characterised by his sophisticated colourism, but in terms of themes and treatment, the exhibits present a fascinating range of variety.

The Amos Anderson Art Museum presents to the public an artist who died before his time, and who was constantly developing his work. Exhausted by illness, Uotila died on the island of Corsica before his 28th birthday, only eight days after completing a large and demanding painting of fishermen. The exhibition presents about 60 oil paintings and sketches by Uotila.

A book in Finnish and Swedish will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. Produced in collaboration with the Finnish Literature Society, the lavishly illustrated volume bears the same title as the exhibition and includes essays by Tiina Penttilä, Hanne Selkokari and others.

The exhibition curator is Synnöve Malmström

Forest Outing
An exhibition for the whole family
Amos Anderson Art Museum
1 March 2013 – 10 March 2014

Opening at the Amos Anderson Art Museum in the beginning of March, Forest Outing is a family exhibition that innovatively presents the collections of members of the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations (STSY) to a new audience: children and families. The works on show are classics of Finnish art that have been presented through art periods or art historical themes in the association's previous exhibitions. Now the exhibition and its hanging have been planned and designed with children in mind.

Forest Outing occupies three floors of the museum. In the section on pristine and experiential nature, viewers walk along a forest path where art merges with nature. Presented along the path are the seasons of the year, forest types and forest animals. The featured artists include Berndt Lindholm, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Pekka Halonen, Reidar Särestöniemi, Lennart Segerstråle, Jussi Mäntynen and Yrjö Liipola. The section highlighting human traces in the forest presents the forest as a cultural environment from the perspectives of forest management, wood processing and wild forest produce. The artists featured in this section include Ferdinand von Wright, Alvar Cawén, and Hannes Autere, among others.

Forest Outing is a multisensory, activity-based exhibition in which viewers can immerse themselves in the world of art through sound, light and touch. The exhibition comprises some 90 artworks: sculptures, paintings and prints, as well as historical objects of cultural interest on loan from the Serlachius museums and stuffed animals from the Finnish Museum of Natural History.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Otava is publishing an adventure book for children. Written by Susanna Luojus, the book contains fabulous illustrations by visual artist Stiina Saaristo. Perfect for a week's bedside reading for primary school students, the book tells the story of Leevi, a second-grader who gets transported from a dull art museum into a strange forest, and drawn into an amazing forest outing. Where is the scary Börk hiding? Who does secret agent Martti Mus work for, and –  ew! yuck! – who needs to brush their teeth? The Swedish-language edition of the book is published by Amos Anderson Art Museum..

Throughout the exhibition period there will be workshops for children and weekend events. Stiina Saaristo's book illustrations will be on display in the workshop gallery along with artworks produced in the workshop.

The exhibition has received support from 3M Finland, DMP, Svenska kulturfonden, Finnish Forest Foundation, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation and Sato Corporation. 

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