Friday 3. February 2017
Riiko Sakkinen brings European refugee crisis to Serlachius Museums
“If you demand that Europe’s borders be closed, you are not following your time. Our borders have already been closed, with concertina wire that tears both flesh and clothes. The Iron Curtain of the Cold War was a toy compared to the present border fences of Europe,” says artist Riiko Sakkinen in his Closing Borders exhibition, which opens to the public on 4 February at Serlachius Museums in Finland.
Sakkinen’s words are based on what he himself has seen and experienced. In 2016, together with the curator of the exhibition, Director of Serlachius Museums Pauli Sivonen, he toured Europe's external borders: to the African cities Ceuta and Melilla, which belong to Spain, the Greek archipelago, the Balkan routes and, finally, the demolished refugee camps in France.
During their travels, the artist and the curator saw refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe, their path blocked by metres high fences and razor-sharp concertina barbed wire. They saw refugees placed in conditions reminiscent of concentration camps. They saw refugees in the border zone of two countries, stuck in no-man’s-land, living in makeshift tented villages.
On reaching a new hotel, Sakkinen always asked for writing paper bearing the hotel’s logo and began to sketch what he saw. The exhibition’s key works are also enlarged prints of the drawings made on the writing paper, and which he added to later. In them, Sakkinen addresses the issues encountered by the refugees as well as the attitudes of the indigenous population towards refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
Car, barbed wire and swimming toys
Sakkinen is a political artist. He finds the subject matter for his images in entertainment and consumer culture: comic strips, packaging and advertising. The multi-layered and provocative works contain references to history and social ills: attitudes and racism. All of the exhibition’s works have texts that open up their details but leave interpretation to the viewer.
The exhibition also features objects. At ceiling level runs concertina barbed wire, manufactured by a company in Malaga that has rapidly increased its sales. To the soles of worn-out training shoes have been attached heavy-duty screws, with which people attempting to reach Europe tried to climb over a barbed wire fence. In the centre of the exhibition space is a car that asylum seekers arriving in Finland from Russia left after crossing into Finland in winter 2015–2016. The Finnish state auctioned the cars accumulating at the border, and one of them ended up in Mänttä.
The exhibition also has children’s swimming toys, on which is printed “This is not a life-saving device”. Sakkinen collected them from among the tens of thousands of life jackets abandoned on the shores of the island of Lesbos. Over a couple of years, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have passed through Lesbos, crossing the sea between Greece and Turkey in densely packed boats.
From the fate of a single person to a phenomenon
Sakkinen does not highlight in his exhibition the perspective of a single refugee or migrant. Instead he addresses the state of being a refugee or migrant as a phenomenon and tells how Europe has responded to it.
The artist says that when preparing the exhibition he read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Under the declaration, everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. Similarly, everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
“The Declaration of Human Rights is, in practice, no longer in effect. It is not protecting people in distress that are coming to Europe,” he concludes.
In connection with the exhibition, there will be a publication written by Pauli Sivonen, which will appear in summer 2017. It is a kind of travelogue, which arose when the men discussed each evening the day’s experiences. At the same time, it casts light on the stages of the exhibition process, which went through many twists and turns.
Sakkinen is himself a descendant of evacuees who left Finnish Karelia after the Second World War. He lives and works in Spain. In the exhibition, he is saying what kind of Europe and world he would like to live in.
“I want a world where there are no borders and where people can freely choose their place of residence. I want a world where people have the right to move but, above all, the right not to move. I want a world where no-one has to leave home because of war, violence, persecution or poverty.
The exhibition is open at Serlachius Museum Gösta from 4 February 2017 to 7 January 2018.
The Serlachius Museums are open in the winter season, 1 September–31 May, from Tuesday to Sunday 11 am–6 pm.
Friday 4. November 2016
Marita Liulia´s exhibition Golden Age opens at Serlachius Museums, Finland
Marita Liulia is an internationally renowned and exceptionally versatile artist and director. Her exhibition Golden Age opens at Serlachius Museums on 5th November 2016. Serlachius Museums launch its Finland 100 Years celebrations with Liulia’s theme.
Golden Age refers to the creative period of Marita Liulia since the exhibition presents around one hundred new works: paintings, photographs, short films and sculptures. Gold, which connects the works together, is seen in many forms and meanings.
In Finnish art, the term Golden Age refers to the period prior to Finland’s independence, when artists created a Finnish identity for the country. For a dialogue with her own works, Liulia has selected master works of the Golden Age. Also on display will be Helene Schjerfbeck’s painting The Red Haired Girl II, only recently acquired by Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
Liulia defines Finland’s second Golden Age as the period from the 1970s, when a small country rose quickly to become one of the world’s most advanced and affluent nations. “But what does Golden Age mean today? Does art create a national wellbeing that is mental, physical, economic and communal? Or in an era of individualism, is Golden Age also personal?” asks the artist.
Liulia’s large-scale paintings, often created with her bare hands, are inspired by Finnish nature. World events, democratic crises, natural disasters, bomb strikes and the plight of refugees are also present in the works.
Part of the exhibition is a series of portraits of new and native Finns. The photographs have been taken at the artist’s black table, where the turning points and golden ages of life have been discussed. “Great insight is often preceded by disaster. People are stories, and every story is fascinating. Now the time has arrived to focus on Finnishness,” says the artist, who has travelled the world her entire adult life and has exhibited her works in 50 countries.
A series of short films and a large sculptural installation have emerged alongside the photographs and paintings. Marita Liulia works in a museum the same way as she does in a theatre, so the exhibition under preparation is an experiential, holistic work of art.
Exhibition Golden Age is open 5 November 2016 – 23 April 2017.
Serlachius Museums are open in wintertime 1 September – 31 May Tue-Sun 11 am–6 pm.
More information: Artist, Director Marita Liulia, +358 40 833 8944, email@example.com
Serlachius Museums: Information Officer Susanna Yläjärvi, +358 50 560 0156, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 22. September 2016
Marita Liulia´s exhibition Golden Age to the Serlachius Museums, Finland
Marita Liulia is an internationally renowned and exceptionally versatile artist and director. She has been invited to hold a solo exhibition in Serlachius Museum Gösta from 5 November 2016 until 23 April 2017. Liulia’s theme is Golden Age, with which the museum will launch its Finland 100 Years celebrations.
Golden Age refers to the creative period of the artist, because the exhibition will present around one hundred new works: paintings, photographs, short films and sculptures. Gold, which connects the works, is seen in many forms and meanings.
In Finnish art, the term Golden Age refers to the period prior to Finland’s independence, when artists created a Finnish identity for the country. For a dialogue with her own works, Liulia has selected master works of the Golden Age from Serlachius Museums’ collection. Also on display will be Helene Schjerfbeck’s painting The Red Haired Girl II, only recently acquired by Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
Liulia defines Finland’s second Golden Age as the period from the 1970s, when a small country rose quickly to become one of the world’s most advanced and affluent nations.
“But what does Golden Age mean today? Does art create a national wellbeing that is mental, physical, economic and communal? Or in an era of individualism, is Golden Age also personal?” asks the artist.
Liulia’s large-scale paintings, often created with her bare hands, are inspired by Finnish nature. World events, democratic crises, natural disasters, bomb strikes and the plight of refugees are also present in the works. The stories associated with the paintings are presented both in the exhibition and in a book Golden Age, published simultaneously.
Part of the exhibition is a series of portraits of new and indigenous Finns. The photographs have been taken at the artist’s black table, where the turning points and golden ages of life have been discussed.
“Great insight is often preceded by disaster,” observes Liulia. “People are stories, and every story is fascinating. Now the time arrived to focus on Finnishness,” says the artist, who has travelled the world her entire adult life and has exhibited her works in 50 countries.
A series of short films and a large sculptural installation have emerged alongside the photographs and paintings. Marita Liulia works in a museum the same way as she does in a theatre, so the exhibition under preparation is an experiential, holistic work of art, in whose creation a scenographer and light designer have participated.
More information: Artist, Director Marita Liulia, +358 40 833 8944, email@example.com
Serlachius Museums: Information Officer Susanna Yläjärvi, +358 50 560 150, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 27. May 2016
Mark Wallinger exhibition opens in Serlachius Museums, Finland
An exhibition of award-winning artist Mark Wallinger opens to the public in Serlachius Museums, Finland on 28 May 2016. Mark Wallinger Mark is partly a retrospective exhibition, but it also includes new output of the artist. This is the first time that Wallinger’s art has been seen on this scale in Finland.
The exhibition is opening in Mänttä-Vilppula, a small town surrounded by forests and lakes in Central Finland. Mänttä, which developed around the paper industry in the late 19th century, has undergone industrial restructuring and in recent years has risen to become one of Finland’s most important art towns. Behind this development is the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation and its museum activities, which have grown rapidly.
Two years ago, a major extension, the Pavilion, was built at Serlachius Museum Gösta. The Pavilion, designed by Barcelona architectural studio MX_SI, is representative of modern timber-frame construction. The building has attracted international attention and received a number of awards in Finnish and international architectural competitions.
Mark Wallinger Mark also extends from the internal premises into the park surrounding the art museum. In addition, the wall of the paper mill, which is still operating in Mänttä, will display a multi-level self-portrait of Mark – a large ‘letter I’ banderol. Throughout the summer, a similar banderol will also adorn the wall of the former Finlayson textile factory, located in Tampere, 90 kilometres away.
Humankind at the heart of Wallinger’s art
The Wallinger exhibition has a total of 40 works: paintings, sculptures, installations and video works from the period 1999–2016. The exhibition also includes one of the artist’s most famous works Ecce Homo (1999–2000), which was displayed in Trafalgar Square, London at the turn of the millennium. In addition, the artist will create for the exhibition an installation that will only be seen in Mänttä.
Timo Valjakka, the curator of the exhibition, says that Mark Wallinger is a surprising, inventive, profound and astonishingly versatile artist, who is known for never repeating himself.
“He is also a political artist, but indirectly, as if through mirrors or double meanings. He does not preach, but again and again presents questions about individual identity and all the social, cultural and political power structures that govern us and accordingly make us what we are. Recent events in Europe have made Mark’s art of even greater current interest,” emphasises Valjakka.
Valjakka believes that Wallinger’s art, which largely addresses very British themes, will also resonate with Finnish viewers. “At the heart of his work is humankind, and that’s why it is universal. It may not be easy, but good art always challenges its viewers.
Mark Wallinger Mark is open in Mänttä from 28 May–9 October 2016. The exhibition will continue from Finland to Edinburgh and Dundee in Scotland, where it will be seen in spring 2017. The exhibition partners are the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and Dundee Contemporary Arts in Dundee as well as Hauser & Wirth Gallery in London.
Thursday 29. October 2015
Helene Schjerfbeck’s work Robber at the Gate of Paradise to Serlachius Museums in Finland
Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation has acquired Helene Schjerfbeck’s painting Robber at the Gate of Paradise. The work, acquired from Christie´s auction house in a private sale, successfully complements the series of Schjerfbeck male images in the Fine Arts Foundation’s collection.
Helene Schjerfbeck painted the Robber at the Gate of Paradise in 1924–1925, just before she moved from Hyvinkää to Tammisaari. The model was a local farmer, Alku Jaakkola. The model’s beauty moved the artist away from the original theme: a Christ figure transformed into a robber for whom the gate of Paradise does not open.
The Robber at the Gate of Paradise was in its time an exceptional male image. Schjerfbeck painted it at the age of 62. The artist depicts her half-naked male model idealising his fleshly beauty in a way that was unique for a female artist at that time.
In autumn 1924, the artist wrote to her friend Maria Wiik: “I’ve begun to paint ‘The Back’, a local farmer has sat as my model twice already. How beautiful it is, such a strong muscular back.” She mentioned the painting on a couple of other occasions in her later letters: “I’ll leave ‘The Back’ as a study, because overpainting it will weaken everything.”
Although the Robber at the Gate of Paradise is among Schjerfbeck’s most interesting paintings of the 1920s, it is not widely known, as it was for a long time in the ownership of one family. The work was shown, however, in an exhibition at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in 1944 and in a memorial exhibition held in honour of the artist at the Kunsthalle Helsinki in 1946. The work has also been shown in Schjerfbeck exhibitions in Lübeck in 1969, at the Helsinki Art House in 1980, at the Ateneum Art Museum in 1992 and in Frankfurt in 2014.
The Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation already had a series of well-known male images painted by Schjerfbeck: Young Man, c. 1882, Death of Wilhelm von Schwerin, 1927 and Motorist Måns Schjerfbeck 1929.
Schjerfbeck, Robber at the Gate of Paradise, 1924–1925, oil and tempera on canvas, 83.5 x 62.5 cm, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
For further information, please contact:
Pauli Sivonen, Director of Serlachius Museums tel. +358 50 566 1355 email@example.com
Tarja Talvitie, Head of Collections tel. +358 40 638 6700, firstname.lastname@example.org
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