The Åland Islands Art Museum welcomes visitors to renovated facilities and a new exhibit of the museum’s collections. The art museum presents a broad spectrum of art on the Åland Islands from sculptures and paintings to modern video installations. In addition, the museum regularly presents special exhibits offering new impressions and influences to visitors. The art museum continuously seeks to be an inspiring forum for both artists and visitors.
In the new collection exhibition, the works of art are presented thematically to give a new perspective and context for Åland art. The exhibition themes include Karl Emanuel Jansson, The Magic of Animals, When Eyes Meet, Traces of Humanity and the Busis room for children.
KARL EMANUEL JANSSON
Karl Emanuel Jansson was born 1846 to a poor farming family in Pålsböle, Finström on Åland. Not physically strong enough to perform the hard farm work, he instead studied under the tutelage of the parish painter, thus sparking his passion for art at a tender age.
Thanks to the efforts of dean Frans Petter von Knorring, he was the first talent from Åland to be discovered and financially supported by the Finnish Art Society. This made it possible for Jansson to study art in Turku, Stockholm and Düsseldorf, which had been the European capital of art for some twenty years.
On his deathbed, Jansson received the recognition he so fervently sought. Two of his pieces, Klöveress and Talmannen received awards at the Vienna International Exposition and he himself was accepted to the prestigious St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. However, he died shortly after being accepted at only 28 years of age. The difficult conditions of an artist’s life opened the door to the tuberculosis that eventually took his.
His humble beginnings allowed him to simply and soulfully portray the interiors and customs of peasant life like no one else. He was a sophisticated master of colour and light and was one of the most accomplished Finnish painters of peasantry and portraits of his time. His premature death was a major loss to Finnish painting.
THE MAGIC OF ANIMALS
The magic of animals attracts, fascinates, scares and astonishes. Animals have played a prominent role throughout the history of art; from ancient cave paintings to contemporary art, every culture has had its own way of depicting animals.
Åland art is characterised by a close relationship with nature. The representation of animal motifs has varied greatly, from the idealistic to the realistic and, further, to a contemporary approach that seeks to make a point. The Åland Art Museum’s collections comprise, first of all, everyday depictions of local animals, but also reflections of rare and exotic animals, as well as imaginary beasts.
WHEN EYES MEET
Our eyes communicate silent messages. A large proportion of human communication takes place intuitively through our body language and facial expressions. Our faces speak their own language with a practically endless repertoire of emotions and feelings. A portrait can serve many different purposes and raise many questions. Who is speaking in the portrait? Is it the person represented in the portrait or is it the artist? Or perhaps yourself?
Throughout the history of art, people have been fascinated by their own and others’ portraits. Often, portrait painting has served as an indicator of wealth and belonging. Since the arrival of cameras and, more recently, mobile phones, the same phenomenon is represented by self-portraits and selfies from holidays and other occasions we want to share with others.
TRACES OF HUMANITY
An old castle rich in history, a depiction of a rickety chicken coop, a blueprint, or a simple shed out in the countryside – all of these come with memories. Memories from a time gone by or still very much present. The built landscape is imbued with traces of humanity and the values of each age.
Artists have illustrated the built landscape and cityscapes since the beginning of the 1800s, when peasant artist Carl Kuhlman decorated the walls of farmers’ homes with images of cities and castles. The building history of Åland has played a crucial role in influencing our identity as a people. Art continues to bear witness to this, with artists still cataloguing these traces of humanity. The Åland Islands Art Museum collection contains a wide variety of motifs centred around the built landscape, with more of a focus on rural spaces than urban ones.