This very journey!
15 Sep 2006 – 28 Nov 2010

Compiled primarily of works from Turku Art Museum's collection, the exhibition This Very Journey! showcases both geographic and imaginary journeys by Finnish and Finland-based artists.
In addition to Finnish destinations, they travelled to other European countries and to North Africa. The destinations featured in the exhibition also include historically nostalgic sites such as Karelia and Suursaari island. Geographically the exhibition ranges from the North to the South, and in time from the early 19th century to the latter half of the 20th. It is also a journey into the history of Finnish art, from Romanticism to Realism, from Symbolism to Surrealism. Imaginary journeys were especially manifest in the two latter categories, in art movements that can both be regarded as modern.

The vanguard of Finnish artists travelled primarily to the province of Häme in Central Finland. The painters Robert Wilhelm Ekman, Karl Emanuel Jansson and Werner Holmberg all came from the Swedish-speaking coastal area, however, which in their case entailed an encounter between two different cultures. Holmberg's legacy was continued by Hjalmar Munsterhjelm who was born in Häme.

With the rise of French plein-air painting and Realism, artist colonies sprang up in rural areas all over Europe in the late 19th century. The best known of such places in the Nordic countries was Skagen in the northernmost tip of Jutland. Skagen was a meeting place for Scandinavian artists, and it served as the model for a Finnish-Swedish community established in Önningeby in the Åland Islands. The Önningeby community thrived from 1886 to 1914, and its central figure was Victor Westerholm from Turku. Another important place outside continental Finland was Suursaari island. One of the earliest painters of Suursaari, and one of the most loyal to his subject, was Thorsten Waenerberg, who was a prominent figure also in the art circles of Turku. Younger generation artists who painted Suursaari included Magnus Enckell and Verner Thomé as well as Alfred William Finch.

In the 19th century, travelling was gradually made easier and faster by two technical innovations, the steamship and the train. Travelling became safer and more comfortable than before. It was possible to take a steamer from Finland to Stockholm as early as the 1830s, and a train via St Petersburg to Central Europe from the 1870s.

Some Finnish artists became inspired by Arab culture in 19th-century Paris, where a movement known as Orientalism had gained popularity in artistic circles. At first, Finnish artists travelled to Spain, usually from Paris. From the monuments of old Moorish culture it was only a stone's throw to North Africa on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar. From a Western perspective, it was a journey into otherness, into an alien culture. Trained both as an artist and a soldier, Hugo Backmansson from Turku visited North Africa for the first time in 1898, and continued to undertake painting trips there for nearly half a century, up to 1946.

Antti Nieminen from Turku is among the most influential Finnish printmakers of the 1960s and 1970s. His later development was influenced by an exhibition of work by the German-born surrealist painter Max Ernst that he saw in Paris in the 1950s. In spite of their modern style, Nieminen's collages and lithographs pay homage to old European culture and architecture. The influence of antiquity and classicism is evident in his imagery and in the titles of his pieces. His collages are imagined journeys into a time and a place that do not exist.

Turun taidemuseo, Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku, Puh. 02 2627 100. © 2014