December 03, 2011

Niilo Rytkönen, Sculptures around the farm


first two pictures (2003) courtesy of Olli Korhonen,
from his blog, see documentation

Niilo Rytkönen (b.1928) lives in the rural area of the small finnish town Suonenjoki on a farm which is located close to the Kutujoki river. The farm, located on a spot locally known as Jokela, has a large stretch of meadowy land around .

Rytkönen has become known from his creation of an extended art environment, both by decorating the walls of the barn of the farnhouse and by populating the meadows near the farm with totemlike items, mostly made from natural materials collected in the nearby woods and countryside.

This outsider artist began this creative activity at a later age, probably when he already was in his fifties. At some moment, when he was around outside, he was triggered by the form of natural items like stones and wooden stumps, an experience which made him aware of the anima these items may have and the persona they may represent.

He began collecting these items and in some cases he would color them with paint, blue, white, or other colours, as in above picture. Before he decided to exhibit these items on the wall of the barn, Rytkönen had to overcome some hesitation, thinking that the neighbours might consider such a decoration somewhat strange.

Maybe some did, but in general his decorative activity was appreciated and gradually Niilo Rytkönen expanded his exhibition space into the fields near the farm.


Currently the fields are covered with rows of wooden poles, with heads or representations of birds on top, made of painted pieces of (birch) wood, a number of these poles fitted with horizontal branches that suggest arms, all together -because of the continuous repetition- delivering an extraordinary artistic scene.

Rytkönen also has created life-size characters such as dolls, dressed with clothes from the fleamarket and drawn up in long rows on the meadows around the farm.

In general the creations are meant to cherish visitors and give them a good feeling. One can come along items that express ironic or humoristic comments upon actual social and political developments in Finland.

picture courtesy of Juda Pääjärvi (Flickr, nov 2008)

Niilo Rytkönen in recent years has been invited to participate in expositions of outsider art, both on a regional and national level.  He also was portrayed in the Cristoph Schuch movie Self Made Paradise (Germany, 2007, 84')

Although in his eighties, he is still active in taking care of the exposition grounds and the exhibited items.

More documentation and pictures
* Olli Korhonen's post of october 5, 2011, in his weblog relates the story, following an article he first published in 2003 in a local newspaper (also take a look at an update, jan 2015, showing the site in wintertime). This publication may have been the first that regionally introduced Niilo Rytkönen as an outsider artist, Translated into english, it has been republished in my collection of outsider environments texts.
* ITE-net website

Niilo Rytkönen
Sculptures around the farm
Jokela, Suonenjoki, Finland
can be visited

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