About Purchasing Artworks Online

One of my favourite hobbies is collecting prints. This hobby has so far revolved around the excellent online service of Saatchi Art, http://saatchiart.com. In case you are not familiar with this online gallery and art store, I suggest having a look!

I currently own four limited-edition prints of artists featured at Saatchi Art.

Having been employed by the Finnish National Gallery as a Digital Planner for 2,5 years until the end of last year, I got to see world-class exhibitions being prepared close by. The exhibitions of the Finnish National Gallery regularly feature contemporary artists such as Ernesto Neto and Mona Hatoum last year, not to mention big and lesser known names of modern art, such as Amedeo Modigliani or Alice Neel.

The Finnish National Gallery broke all-time visitor records in Finland last year! The number of visitors last year in its three museums, the Ateneum Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, exceeded 700 000 people by far. In a small country inhabited by approximately 6 million people, that’s not too bad for a museum institution!

But let’s not forget, that Finland has a very lively and original, more marginal contemporary art scene.

A very cool online gallery, accessible for all, called Tabulaland, emerged in Helsinki a few years back. You can have a look at the featured artworks of this excellent gallery online at http://tabulaland.com.

This gallery, owned by Aiju Salminen, is smaller than Saatchi Art by far, and mostly features Finnish artists. Acquiring an original by such Finnish contemporary artists as Anssi Kasitonni is easy via Tabulaland! You can place an order through the online store, or alternatively, contact Aiju for assistance. Purchasing an original artwork from a remote country such as Finland has never been easier.

Contemporary art has a notorious reputation of being hard to “get”. I certainly do not get where the hard part is here, and I am not sure it matters if you “get” or miss the point in an artwork – if you enjoy viewing it, be the artwork placed in a gallery space or at home.

I wish more people would enrich their lives by visiting art exhibitions, as I certainly enjoy this hobby myself.

NB. The original copyrights of the artworks in the above post photo taken by me at the Helsinki Art Museum HAM belong to the Finnish artist Robert Lucander.

XXI Mänttä Art Festival

So I visited Mänttä this weekend – and the trip was awesome! This year’s festival is a must-see for any fan of contemporary art.

The Mänttä Art Festival was first arranged in 1993. A biennial event during the early years, the festival has been arranged annually since 1999, and his year’s festival, “Kommandona”, or “Going Commando”, has been curated by the Finnish artist Anssi Kasitonni. Our excursion to Mänttä, located in central Finland, was arranged by the two fabulous ladies of Tabulaland, Saara Konttinen and Aiju Salminen.

Tabulaland is an art gallery and an art shop online, founded two years ago by Konttinen and Salminen.

Our tour group comprised of 35 art enthusiasts. We got on the bus from Helsinki yesterday early in the morning, and arrived in Mänttä around noon. After lunch, it was time for us to take on the exhibition at Pekilo, an old forage factory.

Upon entering the exhibition, one could spot two female artists with mixed media works right at the entrance. Riikka Hyvönen’s fresh roller derby works consisting of leather and aerosol paint were being displayed next to the ticket counter, along with Kristen Liu-Wong’s Asia-inspired illustrations.

In the main hall, another two female artists were dominating – Kaija Papu’s PI541, a crocheted police car, was looming on the background while Anja Salonen’s Sneeze stole my immediate attention. Kalle Mustonen’s giant installation of a wooden garden gnome was laying on the floor motionless, while the sculptor Laura Könönen’s Rinki, consisting of a diorite punching bag weighing 500 kg and a platform – an absolute masterpiece – seemed to highlight the fact that this exhibition is a feast of the heavyweight Finnish contemporary artists.

Getting up the stairs, one immediately faced Tommi Musturi’s The Changed Local Landscape installation. The Hollywood artist Lucy Liu’s works were being displayed in this floor. The three works by Liu, to me, seemed to form a contrast to the rest of the exhibition. I wonder if Kasitonni really had a dream of Liu doing contemporary art like he said in an interview, or if including these works was an intentional pun.

The rest of the exhibition was excellent as well, but no more spoilers! You definitely have to experience it yourselves.

The festival goes on for another 1,5 months, until the 31st of August.

I can only highy recommend travelling to Mänttä this summer.

Visit the Mänttä Art Festival website: http://kuvataideviikot.fi/

The Tabulaland Art Store online: http://www.tabulaland.com/

On Visiting Finland and the Contemporary Finnish Art Scene

As Finland is a remote destination at the outskirts of Europe, we currently only receive approximately 0,4% of all of the travellers worldwide. And most of these travellers only stay for a very short stopover.

However, Visit Finland currently attracts over half a million visitors to its website every month. This goes to show that a staggering figure of annual visitors to the organization’s website must be very interested in Finland as a holiday destination. How to make more of these visitors book a trip here?

I visited Berlin two weeks ago. The city is, of course, one of the most hip destinations in Europe. During my stay there, I visited various sites related to its history, as well as the most popular contemporary art exhibitions currently going on, and many excellent clubs. Perhaps it is the combination of these three types of attractions – historical and cultural, as well as the nightlife – that makes me return there every so often?

I think that Finland, as a holiday destination, caters for many tastes as well, and we can certainly add the spectacular nature to our list of attractions. Now, as the summer is just about to begin, I am looking forward to spending a few weekends at least outside of my hometown Helsinki. For the Midsummer night, there is no better place to be than one with a view on a still lake in the middle of a forest.

But the nightlife scene in Helsinki is hot as well. A few weeks back, we had yet again the Berghain resident Marcel Dettmann playing an excellent 6-hour set in a club in the vicinity of Kallio. And many local artists are a treat for any house or techno lover. Many outstanding festivals for all tastes in music are organized here, the most hip one being the Flow Festival of Suvilahti, and are featured in international travel publications.

For the history and culture lovers, there are many things to experience as well. But perhaps the country brand would benefit of emphasizing the original culture and the excellent contemporary art scene, for example, instead of merely highlighting Suomenlinna Island and other such sites that have more to do with distant events of the past? Helsinki currently has several exhibitions going on that feature contemporary art’s finest international figures, such as Neto and Weiwei.

While I mention that, the Finnish contemporary artist scene is well worth getting acquainted with! Anssi Kasitonni, one of my favourite Finnish artists, is curating this year’s Mänttä Art Festival, first organized in 1993. Being the most hip annual art event outside of Helsinki, this festival that has a history of over 20 years is a must-see. Certainly worth travelling all the way to Mänttä!

And if you should miss that, the contemporary art festival ARS 17 will be taking over Kiasma next year.

The ARS festivals, much like the Documenta in Kassel, have a history ranging back to the turbulent 1960s and 1970s.

While the Documenta will be open in Kassel again the same year, and will certainly yet again be an event beyond comparison most likely attracting over one million art tourists worldwide, I suggest visiting the ARS festival in Helsinki as well. Kiasma will also be the partner organization of Frame Finland during next year’s Venice Biennale.

In two weeks, Visit Finland will organize a seminar related to travel and the field of culture. I will be attending the seminar, and I am very much looking forward to it. The CEO of Creative Tourism Barcelona, Caroline Couret, will be giving a keynote talk, and there will be workshops on the topic, one of them being on contemporary art and country image and facilitated by the Museum Director of Kiasma, Leevi Haapala.