November 13, 2009

Ensio Tuppurainen, Paradise

picture from the website elisanet (not available anymore)

Life and works

Born in the community of Hirvensalmi, Finland, Ensio Tuppurainen (1924-2014) initially worked in a shop, but in 1955 he unexpectedly quit that job and went to live with wife and children in a remote place near a forest. Over the years, the couple had seven children.

Here he got a job as a forest worker until he was declared incapacitated by an illness at the age of 52.

With his wife and the three children still living at home, Tuppurainen moved to another house, the now vacant shop where he used to work in earlier years, which he had bought, 

The former store of some 300 m² was located along the road to the Vekaranjärvi-garrison, a large military base near the community of Valkealan, in the south of Finland.

this picture courtesy of Minna Haveri

Here Tuppurainen began to decorate the large interior of the former shop with paintings of landscapes, people and other scenes.

He was also active in making sculptures, such as elks, horses and other animals, which he displayed around the former shop, where he also had his studio and gallery. 

Tuppurainen used to refer to his site as Paradise, but in Finland it is also referred to as Jätkän Onnela (something like a guy's utopia)

this picture and the next two (2016) by Raija Kallioinen

He became known by the expressive statements he wrote down in a colorful way on posters he displayed at the outside of his house.

In these texts Tuppurainen commented on what he saw as social and political abuses, varying from EU-politics, the banking system and old age pensions, to environmental policy and the treatment of refugees.

Tuppurainen died October 3, 2014. 

Actual situation
In September 2021, it was reported on Facebook that over a weekend a group of volunteers had refurbished the site that was in danger of falling into disrepair.

* In 2022 friends of Tuppurainen's art environment published the website Jätkän Onnela, which has the story of life and works of Tuppurainen as already reported by Veli Granö in 2013 and an inventory of Tuppurainen's creations
Entry about  Ensio Tuppurainen on the website ITE-taide
* Series of photos by Sophie Lepetit on her weblog 
* Tuppurainen's work was represented in the 2005 exposition In Another World in the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki.

* In 2012 Finnish photographer and author Erkki Pirtola made a video (YouTube, 19'29", uploaded December 2012) of then 88 year old Ensio Tuppurainen who talked about and showed his site. This Finnish spoken video gives a good impression of the variety of creations made by Tuppurainen, both all kinds of installations from recycled material and sculptures and pamphlets with social and political manifestations.

first published November 2009, last revised September 2022

Ensio Tuppurainen
Vekarantie 952
Kääpälä village, Southern Finland, Finland
courtyard may be visited


  1. The sculpture is beautiful...

    Just did a little part of a post just for you Henk... hope all is well in Holland !

  2. Just dropping by after Owen talked about your blog. What fascinating posts!!!

  3. There are some clues that may help us in tracing the roots of the prolix amount of outsider art production in Finland. The one and the obvious are the distances, and the long dark winters, which compel people, specially from the countryside, to a forced isolation, where, far from any influence or trend, with no other materials but those available, (most of the times wood, but even junk), and with no more artistic guide but their own instinct, have led to the development of recognizable style characterized by introspection and its closeness to nature. The other point, as you may have notice, is the permanent presence of a political motif. Finland owns a high amount of newspapers, and of course, one of the highest amounts of readers per capita in the whole world. Most of those newspapers obey to a self political agenda and exert a big influence among their readers. Although a peaceful, sometimes silent people, Finns find in the politic expression, and why not, even with a ranting accent, their favorite and more hacneyed "exhaust valve"

  4. Thanks for these observations, Alberto Oliver. I agree with you that the dark winters and the solitude of the countryside form an important factor in promoting creativity, and this in combination with the presence of a lively political debate. I am inclined to see this politcial involvement as part of a more general characteristic, one could describe as a need for individuality and individual expression among the people. I do not know enough about Finland and its socio-cultural development to be sure about this, but it seems to me there is some parallel with the individuality of the french and the abundance of outsider environments in that country (not to speak of individualism in the USA in relation with the great number of sites over there).

  5. Individualism as understood not as a selfish attitude, but as a matter of self afirmation and strong convictions. If we understand french individualism in such that way, it is highly probable to find a clear paralelism with the Finnish way of see the life. On a broad way, when you speak with people like that, they will give you the oportuniy to express your ideas and even the chance to try to convince them by showing your arguments, but will not hesitate in show if have a disagreement or if dislike your statements. Any way, they can clearly make a difference between a debate and for example, what a friendship mean, that is, your convictions about certain topics will not change the general image they have about you. In that way, yes, French and finns share some points in common.