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Tampere Art Museum - Home


1.2. - 24.5.2020

Joseph Alanen - Jugend • Kalevala • Tampere

Joseph Alanen (1885–1920) was one of the leading artists to depict subjects from the Kalevala epic. The Tampere Art Museum will prominently showcase a large selection of his works on subjects from the Kalevala, along with portrayals of folk life, religious subjects, prints and drawings. Alanen’s conception of the Kalevala epic was largely stylised. The characters are formalised, two-dimensional and decorative, with obvious influences from jugend (Art Nouveau). The tempera technique and ornamentality create an impression resembling a tapestry.

Alanen died of the Spanish flu at the age of 35. Despite this, he managed to paint almost a hundred works on subjects and themes from the Kalevala. The son of a foreman of Tampere, Alanen has remained in the margins of art history mostly because no comprehensive exhibition of his work has ever been held.

1.2. - 22.3.2020

Anna Alapuro

Anna Alapuro (b. 1953) from Tampere is one of the best-known Finnish graphic artists. The individual exhibition opening in the basement of Tampere Art Museum presents her colour-saturated graphic art from the last few years. It consists of about 60 works, including for the first time a series of works from 2019-2020 that was inspired by a trip to India and the Himalayas, as well as works related to St. Petersburg, Paris and Tampere from the period of 2014-2018.

Anna Alapuro was born in Valkeala and spent her childhood in Helsinki. She studied art at the Art School of Lahti (1976-1979), the Hungarian University of Fine Arts (1980-1981) and the Lahti Institute of Fine Arts (1997). Alapuro started her artistic career in the 1980s with black and white graphic art, but soon switched to a colour palette of intensively glowing, mainly warm hues.

Alapuro creates her works mainly using the laborious carborundum technique, which along with strong colours and the large size of the works makes her graphic prints very painting-like. She has also employed the techniques of lithography and serigraphy, and in her newest Himalayas series, also monotype for the first time. Combining serigraphy and carborundum in the same work is particularly typical of Alapuro and makes the works simultaneously both painting-like and detailed with sharp use of the lines. Alapuro always creates her graphic art as small series/editions, and in the case of monotypes, as unique prints.

Alapuro’s works balance between abstract and representative art. Her art involves memories of and associations with everyday objects, buildings and landscapes, which she abstracts in her works into decorative graphical motifs and patterns.

Alapuro’s prints are like zoomed close-ups of everyday objects that have become invisible in their ordinariness, whose magical qualities and beauty she re-reveals to us in her art. The starting point of a work could just as easily be traffic lights as the ornaments of a chandelier, lace curtains or plastic buoys. Both growth in nature and organic materials like the shapes of plants turn into graphical symbols and decorative patterns in Alapuro’s art.

Seriality is a characteristic feature of Alapuro’s way of working. The twenty-odd prints in the Rapids series depict the foaming Tammerkoski rapids of her hometown, their environment and details. Many works were inspired by trips abroad and by ancient cultures. The starting point of her pictures is ordinary, but often also acquires a deeper dimension. The Flows series (2017), for example, was inspired by the decorative street inlets of St. Petersburg. The Paris themes, on the other hand, are reminiscent of an urban landscape coloured by graffiti. Regardless of the subject matter, Alapuro’s art always strongly communicates a longing for beauty and aesthetics.

The colours in Alapuro’s works are glowing and intensive. They are sometimes full of energy and warmth; at other times they offer a soothing and cool place of rest for the eyes and the mind. In Alapuro’s own words: “Colour and shape, the basic things, are the building blocks of my pictures. I am also fascinated by details and the surprises in everyday things. Simplification that borders on the abstract on the one hand and a focus on details on the other create interesting contrasts. Colours are a cause for joy; they can open up the work to new interpretations. I work in series; as a whole, individual works often form an entirely new work."