September 14, 2010

ITE - Kalevalainen mielenmaisema / ITE art - A Kalevala mindscape

header of the museum's web page 
announcing the expo

 From September 2010 until January 2011 the Gallen-Kallela Museum, Espoo, Finland, had an exposition about outsider art, which was organised because in 2010 it was 175 years ago the Kalevala, the famous Finnish epic of folk poetry, was first published.

The exposition looked at the way contemporary Finnish outsider and folk artists interpret the Kalevala,

The exposition introduces some twenty folk artists, among whom a number who have been or are active in making art environments, like Martti Hömppi, Alpo Koivumäki, Johannes Setäla, Veijo Rönkkönen and Tapio Autio.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931) was a Finnish painter who as no other has reproduced the stories of the poems of the Kalevala into paintings, in this way making a great contribution to the development of Finnish national identity. The house where he lived, in the Helsinki area, is now the Gallen-Kallela Museum.

The Finnish self-taught artists who produce ITE-art (ITE = itse tehty elämä, self made life), unlike Gallen-Kallela didn't focus upon representing the stories of the Kalevala as such. The relation is, that in general their creations depart from the mood that is characteristic of the epic. So the theme of the exhibition is that the poems act as a mindscape.

The exhibition was curated by Tuula Karjalainen, and the catalog was edited by Minna Haveri and Ulla Piela (Kalevala Society).

first published september 2010,  last revised  may 2014

ITE - Kalevalainen mielenmaisemal
Gallen-Kallela Museum
Gallen-Kallelan tie 27, 02600 Espoo Finland


  1. Kalevala played a monumental role in the building of a proper identity for the Finnish people and it is amazing to see how it is even nowadays, 175 years later, a main source of inspiration for artists of the most wide and diferent trends. But above it all, it has exerted a special influence and developed into a sort of an accomplice for those artists of the outsiders scene. This is not strange at all, since it was from the bottom of the heart of the finnish culture, there, in the deep forests of Karelia, where the Kalevala was brought to life and such special and magical spirit still survives within the national conscience and the outsiders, pure on their artistic intentions and cultural concepts, are, at least in my humble opinion, the most purified heirs of the Kalevala tradition, a tradition by the folk to the folk. So to make an exposition of this nature was a must, with no other speech but that of the very art. I am sure the exhibition will be remarkable curated and not to mention the catalogue, produced by such gifted women. Congratulations to Finland and long live the Kalevala.
    And Henk, thanks for the link to the Nordic Culture Spot!! =)
    Receive my best regards.

  2. Fabulous. Unfortunately I can't attend, but I FBed and tweeted it.

  3. It is a pity that i have learned about that just now... I would have loved to visit the expo.