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Veikko Vionoja - Master
11.06.2010 - 03.10.2010

 

This summer Ateneum Art Museum will present on the first floor an exhibition of the art of Veikko Vionoja (1909–2001). The exhibition celebrates the 100th anniversary of Vionoja's birth last autumn and presents over 70 paintings covering six decades of the artist's career from the 1930s to the 1980s. The focus of the exhibition is on the artist's depiction of Finnish nature and light. Vionoja's most famous works feature fields, gardens and interiors, as well as window scenes, which are also included in the exhibition. Many of the paintings on display have not been exhibited publicly for a long time.

Vionoja was born in the small community of Ullava in Central Ostrobothnia. There the importance of work and the smallness of man were greatly emphasised in a spirit of religious piety. Vionoja produced art already as a young man, but he entered the Ateneum art school only in 1936. During the Winter War he served as a stretcher bearer during the intense battles along the Raate Road. Following the war Vionoja began to find success as an artist. His family lived for many years in Helsinki together with the family of sculptor Oskari Jauhiainen. Vionoja was granted a work room in the Lallukka Artists' Home in 1956. Around this time he began using the glaze painting technique that would become his trademark. The technique involves applying many thin layers of colour on top of each other, resulting in a painting that reacts strongly to light. In this way Vionoja established himself as a master of his craft in the Ostrobothnian tradition.

Although Vionoja lived in Helsinki he continued to spend his summers in Ostrobothnia and took his themes from there. He often made sketches in his wife's native community of Ylistaro in Southern Ostrobothnia, while the actual paintings were created later in Lallukka from memory. Over the years he would sometimes make many variations on the same theme.

Vionoja's paintings share a lot in common with traditional photographic art. Harmonious arrangements and colours create a sense of timelessness and an impression of calm, balance, beauty and silence. One slightly different theme that is also presented in the exhibition explores the relationship of people from Ostrobothnia to their land - land as the provider of life that must be respected even if life seems hard at times. For Vionoja art also involved depicting memories and experiences and expressing his emotive landscapes.

The exhibition is curated by Timo Huusko, a Curator at Ateneum. A book entitled Veikko Vionoja. Tekijämies has been published by Maahenki together with Ateneum and the K. H. Renlund Museum in connection with the exhibition. The book is also available in Swedish.