In search of identity

The works are not arranged
chronologically but thematically, according to the most recurring subjects in
the collection. Thereby, the visitor becomes acquainted with pastoral
landscapes, descriptions of Finnish nature in different seasons, as well as
intimate portraits.

According to Turku
Art Museum’s curator Christian
Hoffmann
, the depiction of Finnish nature in landscape paintings was a linchpin
in the search of the Finnish identity under the reign of Russia in the
19th century. Hoffmann adds: “the Finnish people have always
identified themselves with nature”. Therefore, the name of the exhibition, Kaivannaisia, refers not only to the actual
work of finding specific works from the collection but also to the journey of
exploration into the essence of Finnishness. 

{mosimage}On some walls the ensemble of
paintings with certain subject matter is being broken by Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s works illustrating tales from the Kalevala,
the national poem of Finland.
These mythical narratives that inspired national awakening in the 19th
century, equated with depictions of Finnish nature and folklore, reflect the
conceptions of the savage northern nature as the hive of Finnish consciousness.

The viewer’s attention is captured
with surprising details everywhere in the exhibition. For example, a steady
pattern of landscape paintings is often broken with a portrait. This comparison
of a person and a landscape connotes the age-old juxtaposition between culture
and nature. One way of waking up the visitor is also to hang a view from
sun-drenched Florence
by Pekka Halonen next to a group of
snowy landscapes. Many of the Finnish painters of the late 19th and
early 20th centuries visited the Central Europe where they not only
learned new techniques, for example the plain
air
, the open air technique, but also got to know modern movements which
they brought back along with them to Finland.

Christian Hoffmann reminds that
collection displays are very important for museums, because the collection is
the basis for museums existence and function. Museums are obliged to present
their collections to the audience, and a collection as considerable as the one
of Turku Art Museum enables a considerable number
of exhibitions. Kaivannaisia –
Changelings
offers a good opportunity to get to know some of Finnish art
and cultural history. Through this exhibition one can take part in finding not
only the roots of northern people but also the identity of Turku Art Museum.