Artists’ Kalevala in Japan and Kerava

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Artists’ Kalevala in Japan –project introduces Finnish folklore through modern art from a Japanese perspective. The aim of the project is to promote mutual cultural understanding and artistic cooperation between Finland and Japan, as well as to broaden the way we interpret mythology and folklore. The project is organized together with Kalevalaseura as a part of a larger Artists’ Kalevala -project.

The project began in 2016, when Japanese contemporary artists Kotobuki Shiriagari, Yuji Ohta, Ayumi Tanaka, Tomoko Konoike and Hideki Iinuma as well as the curator of the exhibition Kenji Kubota visited Finland to familiarize themselves with the Finnish national epic Kalevala, Finnish art and culture. The artist Yusuke Asai visited Finland later.

Each artist was commissioned to produce a new piece of art after the trip, based on their experiences of Finland and their interpretation of Kalevala. Their work reflect both Finnish mysticism and the Japanese way of thinking, and the story of Kalevala is told through many different mediums and genres. The exhibition brings together painting, photography, sculpting, video and installation art. Sculptor Hideki Iinuma for example depicts Kalevala’s strong female characters as modern versions, whereas Tomoko Konoike reflects on the raw human emotions and the violent nature of man in her multimedia work.

An exhibition based on the project, Universal Nature – Rediscovery of Kalevala by 6 Contemporary Japanese Artists, was organized in Sezon Art Gallery in Tokyo 6.8.-27.8.2017. In Finland the same works became part of the exhibition Echoes from the Past – Tokyo | Berlin | Kerava, which opened 26.1.2018 at Kerava art museum curated by Arja Elovirta. Besides Universal Nature, the exhibition includes works from the Artists Kalevala exhibition Do you remember produced by the Finnish institute in Germany.

The Echoes from the Past exhibition kicks off the Finnish institute’s 20th anniversary year and is open until 15.4.2018. Several events will be organized during the exhibition.