Finns have always been curious about how they appear in other people's eyes. The Finlandia 200 exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to explore that identity.
Through portraits, it tells about Finns and Finnish identity over the course of two centuries, from the beginning of Russian rule to this day. The procession of portraits covers a wide range of faces, from official and state portraits to likenesses of the famous and family and friends. We can all see ourselves in them.
The extensive review of Finnish portraits presents famous figures from Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt to Urho Kekkonen and cultural personages from Eino Leino to Jari Tervo. Visitors can also come across popular culture figures like Remu and Andy McCoy as happy young men.
The identity of Finland as a nation really began to take shape in 1809, when Sweden ceded the country to Russia. Organs of state were established gradually and a distinct national culture was built up. During independence, the features of the Finnish nation have filled out and acquired new nuances.
From official portraits to self-portrait
Eschewing chronology, Finlandia 200 examines the portrait of the nation through the eyes of an artist. Different periods mingle within the thematic whole.
The exhibition is divided into five thematic sections: While official commissioned portraits usually depict statesmen and politicians, or notables from the field of economics or culture, artists can also capture unknown persons on the canvas, or celebrate an anonymous passer-by.
Portraits of family members or friends are intimate and approachable. In depicting their colleagues, artists often examine the fundamental issues of human existence. Ultimately, artists are at their most vulnerable and revealing when they paint themselves, baring their own soul.
There are about 120 works by 80 artists in the exhibition. Old masters from Robert Ekman and Albert Edelfelt to Akseli Gallen-Kallela mingle with younger talents from Jani Leinonen to Salla Tykkä.