Twentyfour artists will fill the halls, rooms and corridors of Nastola’s old municipal building. In addition to paintings, photographs and illustrative art, there will be video works, installations, environmental art – a Picture Book to become absorbed in.
The artists are Emma Ainala, Maija Blåfield, Elina Brotherus, Pira Cousin, EGS, Sami Funke, Paavo Halonen, Kalle Hamm, Mikko Heino, Einari Hyvönen, Henrik Härkönen, Arto Kettunen, Anni Kinnunen, Laura Kärki, Janne Laine, Pirita Lautala, Anna Pekkala, Marja Pirilä, Vappu Rossi, Aleksiina Salmi, Pasi Soukkala, Kirsimaria E.Törönen, Ilona Valkonen, Meri Westlin.
The artists from A-H are:
Emma Ainala, Maria Blåfield, Elina Brotherus, Pira Cousin, EGS, Sami Funke, Paavo Halonen, Kalle Hamm, Mikko Heino, Einari Hyvönen, Henrik Härkönen
Emma Ainala/ Melancholy Masquerade 2019
Emma Ainala graduated as a Master of Visual Arts from the Academy of Arts in 2013. She has held private exhibitions at the Helsinki Contemporary gallery. Her first museum exhibition was in the Mikkeli Art Museum. She is known for her original paintings in which she combines the ideals of rococo style with pop art subjects in an aesthetic derived from the contemporary flood of visual stimuli. As a rapidly recognisable artist, she has aroused wide interest in artistic circles.
At a cursory glance her works appear cute, but a slightly closer inspection reveals the anxiety and confusion hidden within. The human figures in the works are doll-like, the animals are like toys and the colours derived from a bag of French pastilles. Looking at Ainala’s works, one wants to write a story, create a narrative for the human figures and imagine a whole world surrounding them. One does not, however, want to enter the world of these works, the viewer is safe in the role of observer.
Maija Blåfield is from Helsinki, a film-maker and visual artist. She was awarded the state prize for Media Art in 2014, and was one of the nominees for the Ars Fennica award in 2017.
Blåfield creates meta-narratives. Through her works, she offers a sense of well-being, which resembles the enjoyment from a many-layered story. Her works form a continuum of the tales told round the camp fire before the birth of written language. The viewer is in the role of listener and takes responsibility for the interpretation – standing in the border region between documentary and fiction.
Elina Brotherus (born 1972) graduated in 2000 from the then University of Industrial Art and Design, the faculty of photographic art. She began holding exhibitions before her graduation. She won the Fotofinlandia in the year of her graduation with a series taken at Chalon-sur-Saône in France. About ten years later she returned to the same series and the same venue, taking new pictures in the same places. A picture of the red-nosed artist from the first series was used on the cover of the first edition of Charlotte Cotton’s book The Photograph As Contemporary Art. This achievement surely helped bring Brotherus international recognition.
Elina Brotherus won the prestigious Carte blanche PMU 2017 prize in France in the autumn of 2017. The exhibition accompanying the award “Règle du jeu” (Rules of the game) was held in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. At present, 27.4. – 22.6.2019, Elina Brotherus’ exhibition “I am Still Alive” is on in Berlin at the Gallery Taik Persons.
Brotherus’ photographs have a recognisable style. She uses herself as a model, entwining conceptuality with visuality, not forgetting to spice the melancholy with gentle irony. In her pictures she has dealt with, for example, language, landscape and being the focus of others’ gaze. Often the pictures are very beautiful, but they can also be provocative.
Pira Cousin (born 1962)
Pira Cousin is a French- Finnish artist who has done versatile work in the visual arts since the 1980s. She belongs to the Ö group and its “women’s” group, Ajattaret. Last year her work was on show at the Finnish museum of photographic art, in the year book of Finnish photography and a few years ago at the Mäntä art festival. Cousin will bring everyday beauty to the Picture Book exhibition in Nastola’s former municipal building. Her series of pictures is a tonal entity, where people are present and close, but not posed. The camera is there as if by chance.
The internationally known graffiti artist EGS made a banner “Europe’s Greatest Shame #11” for the exterior wall of the Atheneum in Helsinki in spring 2017. The same banner was on display last summer on the facade of Pekilo at the Mäntä art festival (see photograph).
EGS’s works were also seen in spring 2018 at an extensive individual exhibition at Taidehalli, Helsinki, where a major role was played by world maps and boundaries. The works of EGS display a strong humanitarian ethos. He has put migration and refugees strongly on the map and works, for example, with Amnesty International. EGS works anonymously. His work will be on the exterior wall of Nastola’s former municipal building this summer.
Sami Funke (born 1968)
At first sight, one might easily think that Sami Funke’s photographic role is that of realistic documentation, in which the surrounding reality has the main role. When one lingers longer by these photographs, more and more symbolic features become apparent. It is not too far-fetched to see them in the context of painting of the Romantic period. In the series of abandoned buildings, the buildings are strongly individual and beautiful in their decrepitude. They exemplify the structural change undergone, not only in the countryside, but also in small urban areas.
In the picture where nature has overrun the old cattle shed, with its collapsed roof and the overgrown road leading to it, the imagination becomes concrete: the fleeting nature of everything, the temporary nature of all human activity and the power of nature.
BH Sonniasema 2019 /SamiFunke
Paavo Halonen (born 1974)
Paavo Halonen’s works and his exhibitions can be examined as total works of art. Cultural history, an understanding of nature, and nature itself are intertwined into a totality which can be interpreted through both myths and traditions. Halonen is a visual artist who has also worked as a
designer for Marimekko. His works contain decorative elements, but the materials can surprise or even sometimes astonish the viewer.
Halonen prefers to work in a way that is bound to the venue of the piece, so his works cannot be put on show just anywhere or any time. They are always ambitiously installed as a part of their surroundings, including other works of art and the prevailing ambience.
Kalle Hamm (born 1969)
Kalle Hamm has worked with numerous themes and used different media from drawings through sculptures to experimental cinema and various communal and conceptual projects. He leaves the messages of his works undefined to ferment. He does not construct concepts but calls them in question.
His works handle identities, search for a new reality and measure people’s capacity for empathy. Often they draw the viewer deep into a carefully constructed world, which, even so, is not perfect but contains deliberate many-layered gaps. The whole has to be filled out, but in the end, it’s difficult to know whether the viewer has the same understanding as the creator, or as other viewers. This year, Hamm has published an album of strip cartoons. The originals are on view in the exhibition.
Kalle Hamm/ Business 5-1
Mikko Heino (born 1985)
Mikko Heino paints graffiti and in general works outside the world of traditional visual art. He has done some collaborative work with Mikko Paakkonen, but otherwise his works are really seen.
On display at the exhibition are a series of paintings on paper and a cardboard collage. His paintings have his typical graffiti style with ironic references to cultural history and politics. Advertisements and commercial use of space also come in for criticism.
Mikko Heino/ “Rock the Block Real Hiphop” 2019
Henrik Härkönen creates spatial works, crafting them directly on to structures. The works are based on basic geometric shapes and strong colours. They often generate optical illusions. The scale of the works conforms to the dimensions of the human body. At the summer exhibition, The Picture Book, he will work on the structures of the old municipal centre in memorable ways.
The artists from K-W are:
Arto Kettunen, Anni Kinnunen, Laura Kärki, Janne Laine, Pirita Lautala, Anna Pekkala, Marja Pirilä, Vappu Rossi, Aleksiina Salmi, Pasi Soukkala, Kirsimaria E. Törönen, Ilona Valkonen, Meri Westlin
Arto Kettunen ( born 1987)
Arto Kettunen paints people who are close to him, or at least familiar. There are elements of portraiture in his paintings, but they are to be interpreted more as generic paintings of people: he depicts the sense of being human in general. Different types and characteristics take the main role, and at their best his paintings generate a feeling of recognition, almost as if one knows the person depicted.
Arto Kettunen’s artistic expression is realistic and he works on a large scale. He paints the everyday life of young adults and the effect is documentary. In his works, the idea is distilled into the basic question of art: the relation between the artist and his subject. His paintings radiate a feeling of interaction, although the stylishly restrained manner of painting leaves the painter himself largely invisible. Surprisingly, in his hands the traditional style of painting appears contemporary: as if he deliberately transports the classical tradition of depicting people into the present age.
Anni Kinnunen (born 1978)
Anni Kinnunen’s relationship to nature and the surrounding reality is not free of complexity. Although her works criticise the demands of naturalism, at the same time they criticise people’s alienation from nature: where are we going and why, are we fleeing something?
The overwhelming artificiality of Kinnunen’s works is occasionally humorous, but generally the questions she poses are serious. They are a mixture, unique in Finnish art, of plastic and forest. The originality of her artistic voice shocks, even shakes, the viewer, but the totality is thought-provoking. All that glitters is not gold. The strong bodily presence and subjective colour experience typical of Kinnunen slip sometimes into full surrealism and the charged colour conjunctions challenge the viewer to a dialogue about what is beautiful and what is ugly, and pose the question whether, in the end, it’s more important to think about what is true and what is not.
Laura Kärki (born 1978)
Laura Kärki is a Finnish artist resident in Berlin. She skilfully transports the content of her works into areas of harrowing experience. The viewer goes along and has to perceive that the first interpretation of the work is not the only truth. Beyond the sugary colours we are offered an orientation map, which leads us astray from ordinary paths, to read the pictures against the grain rather than straightforwardly.
Sometimes Kärki offers us a means of counter-interpretation by expressing it directly. The photographs in the series “Home for Sale”, are personal – pictures of her mother, her childhood home and its loss. The photographs are presented to us as negatives. This method is visually effective but, in addition, urges us to look at the pictures differently, perhaps they are not merely wistful and nostalgic. The pictures can be read as narratives about how rootlessness, the surrender of real places and familiar environments affect people.
Laura Kärki/ mother beside the bed 2017
Janne Laine (born 1970)
Janne Laine is widely known for his landscapes. He exploits the motifs traditionally associated with landscapes, with sincerity, interest and seriousness. He travels the world and takes landscape photographs. He is an aesthete in the modernist way, but his works have contemplative content. His works trigger nostalgia for somewhere undefined. They take us to places that are not recognisable but are comprehensible. Laine uses the old heliogravure technique and other photograph-based graphic art methods. He celebrated his twenty-year artistic career with a comprehensive retrospective exhibition at Tampere Art Museum and by publishing a book of his works in 2015.
Janne Laine/ Burning sky 2019
Pirita Lautala (born 1974)
Pirita Lautala is a versatile artist who works with pictorial and spatial expression. Her paintings emphasise the tensions in different life situations making use of simplified symbolic totalities, in which apparently unrelated themes develop into new meanings. In her spatial works she exploits her skills as a visual artist and her craftsman’s confident ability to make use of different materials. In her works, the space is transformed, a forest grows or swings intersect, symbolic animal figures from her paintings wander on the walls. From the office environment, Lautala creates something new which stimulates our imagination.
Anna Pekkala (born 1989)
In her works, Anna Pekkala deals with the differences between humans and animals. The works usually have a strong ecological ethos and their tone is polemic. She has used a lot of textile materials in her sculptures, and has taken a stand on environmental problems and animal protection.
The scale of her works varies from tiny miniatures to giant outdoor sculptures. Depending on the materials, she uses sewing or welding. Her ability to work with versatile materials means Pekkala can use varying techniques as the need arises. Her works often adapt to the environment or theme. She may make use of existing elements and build an installation combining them in new ways. In a new space, this is a completely new work.
Marja Pirilä (born 1957)
Marja Pirilä is one of Finland’s most respected photographers. She makes use of the old camera obscura technique. She reflects the external landscape as part of the interior, often in such a way that people are included in the picture. In the final work, two different spaces are superimposed. It feels as if two worlds meet, as often happens in dreams and memories. When there are people in the picture, it feels as if we have an insight into their thoughts, as if we can see directly into their imaginative landscape. Pirilä is a skilful story-teller. In one picture, she can offer such a rich world that it is easy to get lost in it.
Vappu Rossi (born 1976)
Vappu Rossi is a versatile visual artist, who tackles basic questions about humanity regardless of the means. Whether it’s a performance, an installation, an animation or a painting, we get to look inside our own heads and almost inevitably we end up constructing a psychological interpretation of the work. In this exhibition, we shall see an installation by Rossi, but at the same time we shall see her as a traditional draughtsman. Rossi’s drawings are inspired for example by Renaissance sculptures of various myths. In addition to her work as an artist, Vappu Rossi works as a teacher in the newly re-opened drawing studio of Helsinki University, and as song-writer and soloist with the singing group Kitkerät Neitsyet (Bitter Virgins).
Vappu Rossi THE SERAPH OF NASTOLA – sketch
Aleksiina Salmi (born 1994)
Aleksiina Salmi graduated as a visual artist from Kaarisilta in 2016 and has already taken part in many exhibitions. Her subjects spring from reality but she treats them through phantasy. Strong colours, rhythmic treatment of the surface and bold composition recur in her work. Salmi paints mainly animal subjects but combines them with symbolic elements. Dark clouds, blood and strong back-light can form the atmosphere of the works, so that the initial fun and levity remain illusional and gloomier tones emerge from under the surface. Salmi collects subjects from her travels and from stories but the essential element is imagination. Often the background to the works includes written texts. Salmi has said that art gives her room to breathe when life is otherwise difficult, and enables her to visit different places even when movement is limited. On the day the Nastola exhibition opens, Salmi will qualify as a small-group art teacher in the Vertaisohjaaja project.
Aleksiina Salmi “Phoenix in the dark”, 2015
Pasi Soukkala (born 1963)
Pasi Soukkala’s works are easily recognisable. His original drawings fill the surface from edge to edge and the composition is based on the even rhythm of line. Small colour areas are like a mosaic forming an almost ornamental regular pattern. Soukkala is a draughtsman; he uses pencil and oil pastels creating detailed worlds, in which familiar animal figures, plants and symbols constitute a beautiful surface. The first of his drawings date from the 1970s. At the age of five he moved to an institution where there lived several hundred developmentally challenged people. He lived there until he was twenty-one. From that time we have a large box of small rolls of paper. Now in Nastola these early drawings will be on display for the first time.
Pasi Soukkala Drawing roll from the 70s (detail)
Kirsimaria Törönen (born 1969)
Kirsimaria E.Törönen can be described as a draughtsman who has detached herself from paper and taken her drawings to different materials and spatial works. In her work, she deals with art history, interpreting it again from a new point of view. She works reliefs in different materials from her drawings and scales them to many different sizes. Her symbols are recognisable. From time to time she creates pictorial puzzles, but the riddles are more unknown symbolism than real questions. The line that brings out a human figure is conventional but despite this and just for this reason it is the origin of art. There are signs of primitive art and ornamental decoration, but there are also signs of the world of graffiti. At Nastola’s Picture Book exhibition, she will create a total aesthetic installation in a former office of the municipal building.
Kirsimaria Törönen “Mosaic” (detail)
Ilona Valkonen (born 1962)
Ilona Valkonen has dealt with space and its occupation in her works for many years, and at the same time she has exploited the versatile possibilities of canvases. She has constructed painterly entities in three dimensions. She has made holes in the canvases, hung them on ropes, attached separate parts to them, and painted them as backgrounds that reflect the works around them that are hung away from the walls. She has deliberately cut them in such a way that the unity of the work is still preserved. Some of her works observe the traditional painting format, rectangular canvases on stretchers, some are fragmented so strongly that they are more like lace than the conventional painting to be hung above the sofa. Her actual brushwork is delicate and she uses colour with restraint, trusting to subtle variations of tone.
Meri Westlin (born 1962)
Meri Westlin has worked as a traditional painter as well as creating a variety of spatial and experimental works. She has participated in communal works, where the materials have been textiles. Nowadays, her works are deliciously expressionist and colourful. In Nastola, however, she will create a totally new entity to be installed in the space. A series of black and white works on paper is inspired by old herbaria. The work, called Herbarium, has a mysterious atmosphere and an aesthetic derived from street stencil art which, even so, preserves a recognisable sense of its origins. The installation, made up of these paintings is like a herbarium spread out on the walls.
Meri Westlin “Herbarium” 2019