Joel Pettersson (1892-1937)

The Åland art-world’s own van Gogh, Joel Pettersson, in his time regarded as an eccentric, is nowadays widely appreciated for his artistic achievements.

In addition to a year of art studies at Turku Drawing School, he lived almost his entire life in the village of Norrby in Lemland. There, despite a lack of interest and talent for agriculture, he was required to take over the home farm. Both agriculture and an attempt at poultry farming failed miserably, and caused his sensitive, artistic soul to suffer. Like van Gogh, his life ended prematurely.

Joel Pettersson’s art has a completely different expression than that of the Önningeby colony. His paintings can best be described as expressionist, with bold colours and bold brush strokes. Because of the simple materials he used – plain paint on cardboard or paper clamp – the colour intensity has not been preserved for posterity.

Joel Pettersson was a jack of all trades, who besides painting devoted himself to theater and literature. He wrote and directed plays, made the sets, puppets and theater costumes, and wrote short stories and other prose. He also appeared in a one-man show called “Uncle Joel draw and tell.”