Friday, August 29, 2014

Serlachius Museum Gösta (five exhibitions at Mänttä)

Serlachius Museum Gösta (Mänttä) - the new pavilion (2014) to the left. Do click to enlarge!
Serlachius Museum Gösta, Joenniementie 47 | Mänttä, Finland.
    Visited on 29 Aug 2014.

Serlachius Museum Gösta at Mänttä-Vilppula is an art museum based on the collection of Gösta Serlachius Fine Art Foundation, one of the most notable private art collections in the Nordic countries. The collection was launched in 1933, the museum was opened in 1945, it was named Gösta in 2009, and an extension, Gösta's pavilion, was opened on 14 June, 2014.
    The core of the collections of the Serlachius Museums consists of the art collection bequethed by Gösta Serlachius and items related to the history of the paper combine G. A. Serlachius Ltd.

I spent a day devoted to visual arts and saw seven exhibitions in Mänttä on Friday 29 August, 2014. The centerpiece was, of course, Gösta, whose new pavilion was opened two months ago. A fresh piece of modern architecture designed by Boris Bežan, Héctor Mendoza, and Mara Partida, full of light and a fine sense of space, fitting to the surrounding beauty of the nature very well.
    I had heard fond remarks about Mänttä and the Gösta pavilion, and the praises are fully justified. The exhibitions were well attended, and I would not be surprised if the popularity keeps growing. Mänttä is an ideal target for an art trip for at least one whole day.
    There are two Serlachius Museums, Gustaf and Gösta, of which I focused on five exhibitions at Gösta.

Riiko Sakkinen: Museum of No Art (MuNA), 2014
MuNA – Museum of No Art. 14 June–7 September, 2014. A conceptual installation. Artist Riiko Sakkinen has established a new museum at the pavilion of Serlachius Museum Gösta. The museum has no art.
    Museum of No Art is artist Riiko Sakkinen's answer to an invitation to make an exhibition about institution of the museum. Something is missing, however. Sakkinen's museum has no art.
    MuNA at Serlachius Museum Gösta consists of the products in the museum shop and posters printed for the exhibition. Museum of No Art has a stylish logo that can be seen at many locations: at MuNA's website, in Facebook, in Twitter and at adverts.
    – MuNA is dystopic museum where art has no meaning. All that matters at MuNA is money, power, brand and the number of visitors, Sakkinen explains.
    In fact, MuNA consists merely of products sold at the museum shop. In Sakkinens'n view, the museum shop seems to be the heart of many museums.
    – To sell souvenirs is far more important than art. Muna has therefore cleaned away everything that is unnecessary. Art is a necessity only for making museum commercials.

AA: Entrance through the gift shop. A parodic meta-art conceptual comment. Perhaps the next such meta-art comment might be on art selfie mania which today obscures art itself. ("Muna" is Finnish for "an egg").
Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Tutkimuksia draaman ekologiasta (2014). Photo: Crystal Eye Ltd, Marja-Leena Hukkanen
Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1 (2014). FI © 2014 Crystal Eye. C: Kati Outinen. In Finnish, with English subtitles. 360°, a four screen projection, HD installation, 16:9, DD 5.0, 28 min. Until 11 January, 2015.
    The artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila creates an installation to Serlachius Museum Gösta's pavilion. The aim is to display emphatic dialogue with another living organism.
    Finland's internationally most famous contemporary artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila makes a projected installation in four channels, Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1. The premiere of the artwork will occur in connection to the opening of the museum. 
    The approximately 28-minute installation of moving images is an artwork about methods of presentation as a path to other living creatures. Actress Kati Outinen plays the human role in the work.
    Other species presented are a bush, a tree, a worm, a house martin, a butterfly and horses. In addition, a group of human actors form a "Group of Shadows".
    According to Ahtila, the aim of the artwork is to present the anthropocentrism or belief in the centrality of the human race, in film narration and to utilize moving images as means of expression in creation of an ecological drama and story.
    Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1 is Ahtila's first work in 15 years to have its premiere in Finland. On rule her works from recent years have had their premiere abroad in notable museums and galleries. The Foundation has acquired the art work to its collections.

AA: For me the highlight of the entire Mänttä tour was the new work by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, premiered here. I watched it thrice. It is a four screen panorama at 360°. To see everything at once is impossible. The viewer has to stay on the move all the time.
    The presentation evokes the circular panorama and also Erkki Huhtamo's recent magnum opus Illusions in Motion (2013) about the history of the moving panorama.
    Studies on the Ecology of Drama is a continuation to Marian ilmestys / The Annunciation (2010) and its insight in reference to Jacob von Uexkull’s idea that living beings’ different worlds exist simultaneously.
    It is about expanding our vision by an attempt to emphasize with other living beings, such as tervapääsky / the common swift whose capacity of observing time and movement, the critical flicker frequency, is something far beyond human capacities.
    A dog sees a movie as a cluster of still images. The resolution of time is different from the humans.
    This work is an artistic meditation on perception. We contemplate fiction as an opening into a world. When we see a star it may no longer exist. A non-existent image may radiate power.
Liisa Lounila, Stargazing, 2011, Palladium Converse-tossuille, private collection. Image: Liisa Lounila.
SuperPop! International classics of pop art alongside with Finnish ones. 14 June-28 September, 2014. Curated by Timo Valjakka. Serlachius Museum Gösta's main exhibition summer 2014 in the new pavilion shows the international classics of pop art alongside the Finnish ones. They enter into dialogue with the artworks of Finnish and international contemporary artists.
    Pop art was one of the most important shifts of the 20th century art. It was established after the second world war in the Great Britain and in the United States as the artists became interested in the popular culture as a response against elitistic high culture. Pop art was aimed for the general public, it was fast moving, easy and sexy. It was inspired by adverts, packages and other every-day phenomenon as well as celebrities and world's events.
    The curator of the exhibition SuperPop!, Timo Valjakka, has picked about 130 artworks from 23 different artists that represent pop art in many different ways.
    The artists of the exhibition are: Jacob Dahlgren, Jiri Geller, Peter Halley, Simo Helenius, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Katri Kuparinen, Jani Leinonen, Roy Lichtenstein, Leo Lindsten, Liisa Lounila, Robert Lucander, Paul Osipow, Simon Patterson, Robert Rauschenberg, Aurora Reinhard, Raimo Reinikainen, Bridget Riley, James Rosenquist, Riiko Sakkinen, Pilvi Takala, Marianna Uutinen and Andy Warhol.

AA: The main revelation of this exhibition is that it is mainly based on Finnish collections. I for one would not have imagined that this big and representative an exhibition could have been mounted from mostly national sources.
    The second revelation is exhibiting side by side international founding figures and Finnish artists who sometimes copied their models but also often created something new and original.
    One of the curator Timo Valjakka's insights is that while one might expect such art to be carefree and happy there is in fact often a deep undercurrent of melancholy in these works.
    In the excellent Andy Warhol An American Story exhibition at Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere earlier this year I was struck by the prominence of the memento mori theme and thought that Warhol's oeuvre can be seen as the most immense expression of the vanitas theme in the history of art.
    Here I realize that this can be generalized to the entire pop art phenomenon.
Verner Thomé, Pyykinkuivausta tuulisena päivänä / Drying Washes on a Windy Day, ca 1905, oil on canvas, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.
Alwar Cavén: Kehtolaulu / Lullaby, oil on canvas, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.
Gösta's friends. An exhibition showing the artworks of artists who were the favourites of Gösta Serlachius. The exhibition will be opened at art museum Gösta's old manor. The artworks belong to Foundation's own collections.
    The exhibition Gösta's friends portrays Gösta Serlachius as an art collector. In compiling his collections, Serlachius gathered around himself the artists of his time, whom he entertained in Mänttä and from whom he commissioned works.
    Following Gösta Serlachius' example, the Fine Arts Foundation also acquires contemporary art, and the exhibition also shows a few examples of recently-acquired contemporary art.

Gösta Serlachius's friends included many of the masters of the golden age such as Axel Gallen-Kallela, Albert Edelfelt, and Emil Wikström. His collections of those friends are especially large, and here they display a mix of the best-known and seldom seen works.
Helene Schjerfbeck: Autoilija / Motorist (Måns Schjerfbeck), oil on canvas. Photo: Studio Tomi Aho, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.
The Model and the Mad Painter, or, 12 Monologues on Finnish Art. At the first floor of the art museum Gösta's old manor, this exhibition boldly breaks the boundaries of a traditional art exhibition. It is a total artwork that combines literary texts with artworks and installation architecture.
    The name of the exhibitions The Model and the Mad painter refers to Akseli Gallen-Kallela, who lived and worked in the late 1880s at Ekola cottage in Keuruu. Among the local people he was consided to be mad and people used to referto him as "the Depictor".
    The exhibition puts on display Finnish art of the Golden Age and as well as Modernism, following the timeline of art history. This time, the well known story of Finnish art will be told from the viewpoint of the models of the artwork, rather than from that of the artists and art history. The owner of Ekola Farm, Eerikki, a nude model posing in an art school in Paris and a butterfly that has landed on worker's trousers have a chance to express their view.
    Fictional texts by Riikka Ala-Harja are backed up by facts from art history. Chief Curator at the Serlachius Museums, Laura Kuurne is curating the exhibition, and its visual expression has been created by Tarja Väätänen, Chief of Exhibitions at the Serlachius Museums.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela at Ekola, Keuruu, 1889 (seven works).
Albert Edelfelt's studio, Paris, 1879-1881. (Girl with a Cat, Girl Reading a Letter)
Akseli Gallen-Kallela's studio, Paris, 1885-1893 (works by Gallen-Kallela, Eero Järnefelt, Albert Edelfelt)
The Academy Drawing Room, Paris, 1882-1937 (works by Helene Schjerfbeck, Edelfelt, Gallen-Kallela, Anders Zorn, Olga Ehrström, Otto Mäkilä, Eero Nelimarkka)
Sea Shore, Bretagne, 1883-1884 (Amélie Lundahl, Elin Danielson-Gambogi)
Koli, Finland, 1890-1908 (Pekka Halonen, Järnefelt, Gallen-Kallela)
Hugo Simberg's studio - and the Entrance to Tuonela, 1898-1929 (Simberg, Schjerfbeck)
Finland, 1910s (Wilho Sjöström, Magnus Enckell, Jalmari Ruokokoski)
Ekola, Keuruu, 1917 (Gallen-Kallela, four works)

AA: Turning the set-up upside down - seeing art from the viewpoint of the model. The fictional narrative has been created by the author Riikka Ala-Harja.
    The model here, however can be a human being as well as a landscape. The exhibition starts with Akseli Gallen-Kallela painting the landscape of Ekola in 1889 and ends by his return there in 1917.
    There are classical nude portraits, and even some rather daring ones. There are self-portraits. And there is even a look into the land of death in the room with oil paintings by Hugo Simberg and Helene Schjerfbeck.
    Also this exhibition is a mix of famous masterpieces and little seen works and sketches.
Akseli Gallén-Kallela: Taiteilija ja hänen mallinsa / The Artist and His Model. A sketch. Oil on canvas. Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö
The miracles do not stop here. There would have been more to see, and four hard cover books have been published by the museum this year, such as:
    Pauli Sivonen: Eija-Liisa Ahtila - Metsässä on lintu / [Eija-Liisa Ahtila - There Is a Bird in the Forest]. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2014. 191 p., illustrated. Serlachius-museoiden julkaisuja.
    Timo Valjakka: SuperPop!: suomalaista ja kansainvälistä pop-taidetta ennen ja nyt / [SuperPop!: Finnish and International Pop Art Then and Now ].The main essay: "Tuhkasta timantteihin" / ["From Ashes to Diamonds"]. Mänttä: Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö, 2014. Serlachius-museoiden julkaisuja.

We also visited the Mänttä cemetery and the Serlachius family grave with a sculpture by Emil Wikström of Gösta Serlachius.

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