Opening on 11 February, an exhibition at the Kuva/Tila gallery of Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts will survey the versatile career of artist Johanna Ehrnrooth (1958–2020). Academy of Fine Arts alum, visual artist Anna Tuori was invited to curate the exhibition.
Johanna Ehrnrooth studied fine arts at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, where she graduated as a visual artist in 1983. She made her breakthrough in Finland in the 1990s through her cinematic paintings, which examined reality through fragmented reflections.
In the 2000s, the color scheme of here paintings brightened, and folding screens became an important part of her artistic practice. In addition to the direct influence of Japanese art, French-filtered Japonisme could also be found in her work. The dialogue between the external and the internal, as well as themes of the gaze and alienation, have been part of the artist’s approach throughout the decades.
In her final years, Ehrnrooth moved further away from narrative painting, and her late works shifted into playful, bold compositions, where figuration is rather suggested, like dancing on the painted surface.
“The exhibition clearly highlights the diversity of Johanna Ehrnrooth’s work as an artist. In addition to her more characteristic works, the exhibition also showcases some of her sketches and drawings. It feels entirely different to assemble a retrospective of another artist’s works than to curate works created within a specific point in life for an exhibition. The planning process results in a multifaceted portrait of the artist, too,” says Anna Tuori, curator of the exhibition.
Ehrnrooth’s works are included in many public and private collections, such as the Amos Anderson Art Museum, the Saastamoinen Art Collection at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), the Hämeenlinna Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma. In 1996, Johanna Ehrnrooth received the Stina Krook Foundation Award. In 2001, she was nominated for the Ars Fennica prize, and in 2020 she received the Society of Svenska Litteraturskällskapet´s award.
In addition to her artistic work, Ehrnrooth was an advocate for fine arts who found it important that people would recognise the significance of artists. The exhibition Jag – dig, alltid is sponsored by the Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation, which has been a long-term supporter of Uniarts Helsinki. Thanks to the foundation’s contributions, Uniarts Helsinki has been able to organise projects such as the Research Pavilion and the Taidepiste event series.
Anna Tuori (born 1976) is a Finnish visual artist who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1997–2003 and at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1999–2000. Tuori was selected as the Young Artist of the Year in 2011. She was one of the Ars Fennica candidates in 2006, and in 2008, she was nominated for the Carnegie Art Award.