Seasons in Us
Works from the Collections of the Association of Finnish Fine Art Foundations
Oulu Museum of Art 17.6.2023–7.1.2024

The changing of seasons reflects the continuity of life. Nature is always in a state of change, preparing for the next season. In the same way, human minds are typically oriented towards the future. The seasons, or rather the amount of light, affect brain functions, emotions and social life. It is therefore no wonder that we divide the seasons into the more anticipated and the less pleasant according to our personal experiences. Here in the North many people love summer, but all seasons have their champions – and happy is the person who finds joy in each of them. Especially for those who enjoy spending time in the nature, the annual cycle of seasons offers an inexhaustible supply of things to experience and marvel.

The joint exhibition by Oulu Museum of Art and the Finnish Fine Art Foundations explores how seasons are reflected in nature, landscapes and people's lifestyles. In a northern-hemisphere country like Finland, people are used to four seasons – or, in the Sámi community, even eight. In the recent years, however, we have had to adjust to the idea that the seasons are not what they used to be. Climate change affects global climate trends, which in turn have a tangible and significant impact on the living conditions of plants, animals and people.

The Seasons in Us consists of 80 works, mostly paintings. The works have been selected from the nationally significant art holdings of the eleven member organisations of Finnish Fine Art Foundations that together hold more than 25,000 artworks. According to Elina Vieru, the curator of the exhibition, the works featured in The Seasons in Us emphasise representational qualities and a certain concreteness as many of the collections focus on older figurative art and, on the other hand, the theme of the exhibition limits the choice.

Approximately half of the works are dated before the 1950s while the other half is more recent. Art from the 1870s to the early decades of the 20th century is represented in by works of artists such as Ferdinand von Wright, Albert Edelfelt, Helene Schjerfbeck, Pekka Halonen, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Ellen Favorin and Helmi Biese that often depict the Finnish nature in a way that is nostalgic for the contemporary viewer. In the works of contemporary artists such as Marika Mäkelä, Petri Hytönen, Joel Slotte and Anna Retulainen, the seasons are often approached from the perspective of subjective states of mind and interpretation.

Finnish Fine Art Foundations was established (under a slightly different name) in 2006 by six foundations. Since then, the organisation has been joined by five more foundations. Some of the foundations focus on controlling their existing art assets, while others are still building their collections. In addition to the visual arts, the member foundations support arts including literature and music and award grants for scientific projects. Selections from the art collections of the member foundations are displayed in permanent offices and exhibition spaces, some of which are protected buildings and home museums. Since 2017, Finnish Fine Art Foundations has been presenting its collections in themed exhibitions in art museums around Finland. In Northern Finland, artworks from the member foundations have previously only been exhibited in Rovaniemi in 2018. The exhibition in Oulu also introduces the latest member to the association, the Föreningen Konstsamfundet. For more information on the activities of the Finnish Fine Art Foundations, click here.

Oulu Museum of Art wishes to thank the Alfred Kordelin Foundation, the Fortum Art Foundation, the Föreningen Konstsamfundet, the Gösta Serlachius Art Foundation, the Lönnström Art Museum, the Nordea Art Foundation, the OP Group Art Foundation, the Pro Artibus Foundation, the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation and the Åbo Akademi Foundation for their excellent cooperation.



Photograph above: Anu Tuominen: Warm, Cold 2003–2019, thermometers, Gösta Serlachius Fine Art Foundation, Contemporary Art Collection, Mänttä, photograph: Gösta Serlachius Fine Art Foundation / Teemu Källi
Photograph at banner: Albert Edelfelt: Boys Playing, 1884, oil on canvas, Villa Gyllenberg / Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, photograph: Matias Uusikylä / Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation

Helene Schjerfbeck: Violets in a Japanese Vase (detail), about 1890, oil on canvas, Villa Gyllenberg / Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, photograph: Matias Uusikylä / Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation

Axel Haartman: Two Women at the Coffee Table (detai), about 1910–1912, oil on canvas, Åbo Akademi University Foundation / Casa Haartman, photograph: Vesa Aaltonen

Petri Hytönen: Hip hooray! In cold water (detail), 2002, aquarelle, Pro Artibus Foundation, photograph: Erica Wulff

Marika Mäkelä: Spring I (detail), 1979, Nordea Art Foundation Finland, photograph: Matias Uusikylä

Reidar Särestöniemi: Birches in Rime Frost (detail), 1970, mixed media, Fortum Art Foundation, photograph: Rauno Träskelin

Helge Dahlman: Cleaning Mushrooms (detail), 1959, oil on canvas, Alfred Kordelin Foundation, photograph: Rauno Träskelin

Jussi Mäntynen: Crane (Excelsior), bronze, UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation, photograph: Matias Uusikylä

Pekka Halonen: Springflood (detail), 1896, oil on canvas, OP Art Foundation

Rafael Wardi: Little Sunflower (detail), 1984, oil on canvas, Lönnström Art Museum

Matti Mikkola: Cornfields (detail), 1965, oil on canvas, Föreningen Konstsamfundet collections / Amos Rex, photograph: Amos Rex, archive