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Tikanoja Art Museum

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Eastern Spirituality

Eastern Spirituality 18.5-27.10.2024

During May, an exhibition presenting the impact of “eastern spirituality” in Finnish art will open at the Tikanoja Art Museum. In the exhibition, historical and cultural objects as well as around 100 artworks from the late 19th century until today will be on display. The exhibition Eastern Spirituality is curated by Nina Kokkinen, researcher specialized in art and religion. 

For a long time, ideas of the deep, spiritual wisdom of the East have fascinated those who live in the West. This exhibition explores the history of these ideas, and considers how for example yoga, oriental dance, and the sages of the East have attracted artists since the late 19th century – and how the fascination of eastern spirituality can be observed in their art. In the exhibition, artworks by the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela will be displayed together with artefacts that he collected during his travels. Under the dark shadow of colonialism, a large array of exotic objects were imported to Europe. These oftentimes became part of museal collections and décor in ateliers in the West. The exhibition highlights not only the problematic nature of the ideas surrounding Eastern spirituality – but also the artists’ genuine will to understand and learn from different cultures. Eastern Spirituality also brings to the fore works by the Vaasa-born Ilona Harima, who has long been hidden away from the Finnish art history canon. 

In recent decades, Eastern spirituality has merged into popular culture and the multifaceted milieu of the spiritualities, to live in the minds of Western people as a longing for aesthetics, escapism, and a desire to look at life from more spiritual perspectives. The exhibition Eastern Spirituality also displays works by contemporary artists who have embraced eastern traditions and philosophies, such as Outi HeiskanenJ. O. Mallander, and Silja Rantanen. These artists contribute to the exhibition by offering perspectives on spiritual growth and the freeing of the mind from its shackles. 

The artists in the exhibition are: Pekka Airaksinen, Eva Bremer, Carolus Enckell, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Meri Genetz, Ilona Harima, Outi Heiskanen, Ester Helenius, Rudolf Koivu, Inari Krohn, J. O. Mallander, Eemu Myntti, Ahti Lavonen, Anitra Lucander, Leena Luostarinen, Silja Rantanen, Juho Rissanen, Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, Per Stenius, Carl-Erik Ström, Lyyli Visanti, Hannu Väisänen and Jan Kenneth Weckman.

The exhibition is produced by Vaasa Museums and contains a significant number of loans from art museums and rarely seen private collections. Vaasa Museums is also presenting works of four women artists: Eva Bremer, Meri GenetzIlona Harima, and Lyyli Visanti, which are selected from both public and private collections. 

Curator tour by Nina Kokkinen on Friday 16th of June 2024 at 1 pm in Finnish and 2 pm in English.

Eva Bremer, Morning Gymnastics, undated. Photo: Noora Lehtovuori.


Statue, Guhyasamāja. Photo: The Mannerheim Museum / Liisa Oikari.  
Statue, Guhyasamāja. Photo: The Mannerheim Museum / Liisa Oikari.


Artist J.O.Mallander sets up his installation Towards the Pure Land in Lappeenranta 1983.
Lappeenranta 1983. Photo: Kimmo Sarje.

The temporary art installation Towards the Pure Land (2024) by State Prize-winning artist J.O. Mallander will be displayed in the courtyard of the Tikanoja Art Museum 14.6.2024 – 23.8.2024.

As part of the Eastern Spirituality exhibition at Tikanoja Art Museum, artist J.O. Mallander will create his classic, temporary brick installation Towards the Pure Land in the yard of Tikanoja Art Museum. The site-specific artwork, which has been running for more than 40 years, will now be realised for the last time in Vaasa.

As the pioneer of conceptual and environmental art, J.O. Mallander (b 1944) has built around 60 different brick installations during his career. The first version of Towards the Pure Land was built in 1983 in Tamminiemi park and reached a kind of peak in 1988 in front of the Finlandia Hall.

The artist, who has a strong background in oriental philosophy, is a Buddhist. The term Pure Land refers to an enlightened state of mind. In Tikanoja’s yard the work takes a mandala shape and the Buddha symbolizes the gaze of the viewer. The circle also symbolizes the final point. In the artist’s words: “The circle closes for this act”.

The bricks will be donated to the public as a generous gesture, so that the materiality of the artwork continues on after the temporal piece ends. This approach supports sustainable development, too.

The artwork has been supported by: The Finnish Heritage Agency, STARK Vaasa & Brothers Gröndahl Foundation.