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The 51th Japanese Visual Art Exhibition in Finland(2019)
This year marks the 100th year of Finland and Japan's diplomatic exchanges. To celebrate this anniversary let us open the 51st art award exhibition named ““和(Wa)” Wa Kansainvälinen Japanilaisen taiteen näyttely Alajärvellä” for the first time in Finland.

Duration :
May 29(wed)~ June 12(wed),2019
Sponsor of the exhibition :
CAEA - Club des Amis de l'Europe et des Arts
Exhibition organizer :
JIAS - Japan International Artists Society
Nelimarkka Museo
Sponsored by : NEPU - Nouvelle Ecole de Paris UKIYO - É
In cooperation with :Embassy of Japan in Finland, Alajärvi town
Exhibition space :
Nelimarkka Museo, Pekkolantie 115, 62900 Alajärvi
Villa Väinölä, Väinöntie 4, 62900 Alajärvi, Finland
Alajärvi Library, Kirkkotie 7, 62900 Alajärvi Time
Sponsor of the exhibition
Exhibition organizer
The 51th Japanese Visual Art Exhibition in Finland(2019) exhibition report
As it is well known, the city of Alajärvi is the birthplace of Finland's leading painter “Nelimarkka”, who became famous as a painter, city planner and designer. He is one of Finland's most famous artists of the 20th century. Alajärvi ils also known thanks to the world ’s leading architect “Alvar Aalto” because it is a place related to his childhood. The city is dotted with many facilities that helped the making of two great masters.

This time, we selected works made by a variety of excellent contemporary Japanese artists. With local officials, we also carefully selected three venues: “The Nelimarkka Museo”, a place Aalto worked on that holds the greatest collection of Nelimarkkas's works in the world, “theVilla Väinölä”, a villa built for Aalto's own realtives , and “the Alajärvi City Library”, which was built as a place of reunion for the people who live nearby.

With the help of local officials, These 3 places allowed 251 works by 169 Japanese artists to be displayed : Oil paintings, acrylic paintings, watercolor paintings, “Nihon Ga” Japanese paintings, calligraphy, ink, pen drawings, three-dimensional paintings, crafts, and 3 to 5 pieces which were parts of “mini exhibitions” were shown to the visitors. Furthermore, works from 3 world class artists, members of The New ecole de Paris Ukiyo-e art association (NEPU), were also exhibited.

The three venues have simple and modern appearances that do not belong to a specific era. Each place has its original purpose, their warm interiors are filled with design objects and ideas that welcome locals who simply want to tick the time away. Forests, lakes, Dayglow ... lead us to the venue. Everything in Ayararuvi helps embelish the artworks in display.
Before the opening, the event was announced on standing signs, banners, etc. and pamphlets were distributed throughout the city. The mayor of Alajärvi himself shared the information on his SNS account and actively promoted the exhibition. During the event, a gallery talk was held by curators.

Approximately 5,000 visitors from all over Finland, including Helsinki, the capital, separated from Alajärvi by 300 kilometers, came to the exhibition. People also came from Tampere, Jyväskylä , and the neighboring city of Seinäjoki. The Japanese artists’ techniques and variety of expressions were praised by the finnish. In addition, the elementary school near the venue organized exhibition tours as ‘school trips’ and over 400 students got to learn about Japanese contemporary art and culture by coming to the expo.

A delegation of 43 artists from Japan were invited . On May 29 (Wednesday), the first day of the opening, they went to Ayarvi Town Hall and paid a courtesy visit to Mr. Vesa Koivunen, Mayor of Alajärvi.
Hundreds of visitors including local media and art enthusiasts enjoyed the reception party. After the Mayor of Alajärvi gave his greeting speech, a congratulatory message was given by the director of the center, Anna-Maria Virjanen, in the form of a video taken from the Finnish Center in Tokyo. In Finnish style, a gentle musical instrument performance was played by four girls between greetings, and lastly, in a peaceful atmosphere, EMI / JIAS representative Bunpei Magori thanked all concerned parties for their efforts.
Later, a calligraphy demonstration hosted by Mitsumine Kurihara took place. Just after she painted 6 different calligraphy paintings, visitors got to write calligraphy themselves with the help of the calligraphy artist. Their eyes were sparkling with joy and we could hear people applauding at many times. In the venue’s cafeteria, volunteers from the artist delegation served matcha and sweets, creating a harmonious atmosphere in the spirit of the Japanese culture of hospitality known as ‘Omotenashi’.

At the review meeting, the local commander of the exhibition Ms. Elina Archeo , also director of the South Ostrobothnian Regional Museum a.k.a Nelimarkka Museo, along with Ms. Elina Försti, a local artist, kindly and respectfully greeted every single member of the Japanese delegation.

The next day the delegation visited Elina Försti, in her studio. The very active artist gave a passionate speech on “Color” which is the cornerstone of her work.

Later, a welcome lunch party was held by local organizers such as Mr. Koivunen, Ms. Archeo, Ms. Anty Joens, Chairman of the City Council of Aaryarvi, Ms. Sari Palme, Director of City Administration, Mr. Esa Kaunist, Director of Education and Culture, and Mr. Yoni Hanninen, Technical Service Director. Guests who were surrounded by delicious Finnish cuisine, enjoyed the moment facing Lake Lappajärvi, one of the largest crater lakes in the world.

The same day, as requested by the city, C.A.E.A gave a lecture on Ukiyo-e and Japan contemporary architecture in the Nelimarkka Museo. All the seats prepared for the occasion were filled up, showing everyone's interest in Japanese culture.

The next day, on the last day of the local sponsorship event, the delegation of Japanese artists visited Pervola Elementary School in the city. They taught “Origami” and “Calligraphy” during 2 hours long workshops . About 100 students, part of 3 classes, attend to the workshops. Some of the people involved in the exhibition took part in the workshops, and were very focused while writing calligraphy.

All the visitors, including Elderly people as well as younger ones, females or males, enjoyed discovering japanese artworks and talking to japanese artists in every venue.
At the end of the exhibition, after the doors were closed on a successful event, along with the report of the number of visitors that came to the exhibtion, a message of appreciation addressed to the artists arrived.

There were a lot of interesting works made from contrasted Japanese motifs and colors. The beauty born from this complexity was really deep. Every artist had his or her identity, their ideas, and a way of expressing them. It was difficult to try to understand unfamiliar means of expression such as the ones we got to see in the exhibiton. Yet, the very 'Japanese' way of thinking expressed in the works was really deep and rich. Even if you don't understand the meaning of the words, as it is the case in calligraphy works, you cannot stay indifferent to the energy and contrast of the paintings. Their beauty is universal. Every exhibition was great ! On behalf of all visitors, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for this experience that allowed us to see such beautiful Japanese contemporary art.

Archeo Elina
Försti Elina

The artists who came from far away Japan were very interested in Alajärvi. The fact that 40 more artists brought 250 pieces of art to this city of Finland was a big event for the city. Not only locals, but people from all around Finland came to the exhibition and got the chance to discover Japanese culture and contemporary art. We would like to sincerely thank the mayor, Mr. Koivunen, who expressed his respect and appreciation to all the artists, and all the people involved in this project. We look forward to developing artistic and diplomatic relationships between Finland and Japan in the future.

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