Ellen Thesleff: The Kiss of the Sun – A virtual tour

The Kiss of the Sun, an exhibition of paintings by Ellen Thesleff currently at the Oulu Museum of Art, is now available as a virtual tour from the comfort of your home.  All you need is a computer, tablet or smartphone with Internet connection to take the virtual tour consisting of a number of 360 degree panorama scenes. The tour includes an audio guide by curator Hanna-Reetta Schreck. The virtual tour is available until 30 August 2020, and is free of charge for everyone.

Ellen Thesleff

Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954) lived for her art, and her art lives on as impressive and natural as it ever was. Thesleff was one of Finland’s first expressionists and remains one of the most important painters of the Nordic countries. She was a pioneer at a time when female artists found it hard to become recognised – regardless of the artistic quality of their work. Never deeply committed to national subjects or the construction of the young national identity, Thesleff was cosmopolitan whose spiritual homes were Paris and Florence, in which she lived for a long time and longed for in her old age. Yet next to the metropolises of Europe, her dearest place in the world was her summer home Casa Bianca in Murole in Ruovesi, which meant to her a connection to her childhood family, the nature of the North Häme region, outdoor life and well-being.

Thesleff’s painting style was – and remains to this day – striking, independent, headstrong and free. She started her career in the early 1890s as a novice artist of twenty, and painted her last works near the end of the 1940s at the age of 80. With her courageous and uncompromising career she was one the first artists to bring international trends such as symbolism and expressionism to Finnish art. Starting in the 1930s, she also turned towards surrealism and, near the end of her career, also experimented in abstract expression.

Thesleff was a short-haired radical who did what she wanted and lived for her art. She painted in a men’s world, and often men’s subjects: women, landscapes and – later in her career – even abstract experiments. In the countryside she would don men’s pants and jacket, pull a cap tightly on her head and head into the nature. She didn't like teaching but loved money: it allowed her to travel, to live abroad and to dedicate herself to painting.