Vibrant Helsinki School presents a comprehensive show in Lübeck

The exhibition explores relatedness with nature and the sense of space.
nainen seisoo auringonpaisteessa auringonkukkakedolla keltainen muovipussi päässään
Elina Brotherus: Gelbe Musik with Sunflowers, Helsinki School

Fresh Breeze From the North! Images of Nature exhibition in Kunsthalle St Annen in Lübeck, Germany is the largest Helsinki School show in recent years with over 100 photographs, showcasing a wide range of works from past to present. It is focused on the central theme of nature but from a more conceptual point of view.

The show brings together twelve Helsinki School artists, whose works touch on subject of nature and landscape: Elina Brotherus, Joakim Eskildsen, Ilkka Halso, Tiina Itkonen, Jaakko Kahilaniemi, Sanna Kannisto, Anni Leppälä, Susanna Majuri, Jorma Puranen, Riitta Päiväläinen, Mikko Rikala and Santeri Tuori.

An awareness of the relatedness between nature and culture and an intuitive sense of space is apparent in all of the works. While some artists engage with the conventions of landscape painting, such as Elina Brotherus and Santeri Tuori, others seem to conjure up atmospheres that are situated somewhere between the uncanny and the sublime, like Tiina Itkonen and Jorma Puranen. In several cases, for instance Riitta Päiväläinen and Anni Leppälä, nature seems like a hiding place to which we will all eventually return. 

Kaksi lasta kävelee kuvassa poispäin vihreän metsän keskellä
Joakim Eskildsen: HomeWorks, Willow Tree, Potsdam (2012), Helsinki School

The exhibition explores how each of the artists use nature and landscape as a means for conceptualizing their own internal scenery and capture the complex emotional attributes that determine what our individual nature looks like.

‘This major show is really a great indication of the continuing strength of the Helsinki School program: you can combine artists across five different generations and still create something so strong and coherent’, says artist Santeri Tuori.

Curated and produced by Dr. Antje-Britt Mählmann and Adjunct Professor at Aalto University Timothy Persons, the exhibition has been created in conjunction with Aalto University and it is open until 26 April.

Helsinki School is one of the most unique programs worldwide.’"

Timothy Persons

History to be digitized

‘Lübeck–one of the most literary towns in Germany with three Nobel prize winning writers is the place to acknowledge the success of the Helsinki School and a great opportunity to announce the beginning of the digitization of its history in order to preserve it for future generations’, says Timothy Persons.

The purpose of digitizing the Helsinki School’s history is to create an open educational platform that can be used by other academic institutions to access and learn from the history of the Helsinki School, so that they may apply this approach to their own institutions.

‘Our goal isn’t to merely sustain the present but lead the discussion in how the photographic process will be used to creatively perceive tomorrow and establish the Helsinki School as one of the most unique programs worldwide’, explains Persons.

The long-term project has been supported by the Maire Gullichsen and Carl Gustaf Ehrnrooth Foundation in conjunction with the Emmy Network Foundation.

Timothy Persons esittelee näyttelyä yleisölle ja medialle, hän seisoo teosseinän edessä
Timothy Persons at the exhibition opening January 24, 2020

New Nordic approach

The Helsinki School represents more than a selected group of photographers from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. It has been a model for a new approach to education as well as a vehicle for collaborative thought and cooperation.

While the stylistic and thematic approaches within the Helsinki School are by no means homogenous, there is a thread that connects one generation to another in the conceptual way that they perceive and present their ideas.

With over five generations of artists and more than 160 books by international publishers such as, Hatje Cantz, Steidl, Aperture and Kehrer, the Helsinki School has evolved into one of the longest lasting photographic movements of its kind.

Helsinki School’s exhibition Fresh Breeze From the North! Images of Nature in Kunsthalle St Annen, Lübeck 26.1.-26.4.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Helsinki School –The Nature of Being, Volume 6 was published by Hatje Cantz.

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