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FOKUS: Timo K. Mukka
01.11.2011 - 26.02.2012


Ateneum Art Museum has received a significant donation of over a hundred works of art from the estate of author and artist Timo K. Mukka. The donation was made by the artist's wife Tuula Mukka and the couple's children Tuuli and Johan Mukka. Ateneum will now show a selection of the donated art in a new FOKUS exhibition, presenting Timo K. Mukka's intense portraits and opening up new perspectives on the artist's creative work. The paintings, drawings, prints and sketches included in the exhibition demonstrate the diversity and scope of Mukka's artistic talent.

Timo K. Mukka (1944-1973) was a key innovator of Lappish literature and an interpreter of the Northern soul and mindscape. He published his most famous novel "The Earth is a Sinful Song" at the age of just nineteen. Mukka entered the Fine Arts Academy at Ateneum when he was sixteen. His studies lasted only one term however, and he returned to his home in Orajärvi, Lapland. Mukka nevertheless continued to produce art throughout his life. Although his artistic production is fairly limited and broadly experimental in style, it still demonstrates his undeniable talent in the visual arts.

The central themes in Mukka's literature include heavy toil and poverty, religion and violence, and the union of love, sexuality and death. His provocative style became his trademark, but also a burden that drew attention away from the other, lyrical and also social dimensions of his literary output.

As a visual artist, Timo K. Mukka focused primarily on portraying people. Although his themes are somewhat the same as in his literary output, they emphasise a warm and intimate portrayal of the people around him and his environment. His almost diary-like drawings and sensitive watercolours portraying his own parents and siblings, and particularly his wife Tuula, tell a completely different and more private story of the artist than the scandalous public image that was formed in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Timo K. Mukka's close circle of Northern artists included Reidar Särestöniemi and Kalervo Palsa, who like Mukka also died young. They all captured in their art the Lappish identity with unprecedented emotion and radicalism. In the book that accompanies Ateneum's exhibition The Magic of Lapland, Jyrki Siukonen writes, "Each of these three artists was in opposition to the prevailing art trends in Finland."

Timo K. Mukka discussion, Tue 1 November, 5pm-6pm, Ateneum, 3rd floor

Literary researchers Elina Arminen and Toni Lahtinen discuss Timo K. Mukka's artistic output together with art historian Anu Utriainen. This discussion is open to the public and is being organised with the Finnish Literature Society (SKS) and publisher WSOY. Admission is included in the museum ticket.