Kiasma – Exhibitions

Kiasma is Helsinki’s Modern Art Museum and had just reopened after several months’ shutdown for refurbishment. I’d been disappointed that it wasn’t opened during my visit to Helsinki in November last year so wanted to make sure I had a look round when I was back in he city a couple of weeks ago. It opened on the Sunday, the day after I arrived, but I had other things planned, so instead took advantage of one of the mid week late evenings on the Thursday.

There are three exhibitions showing at the moment. The “headline” event a major retrospective of the works of the American photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe.

Consisting of more than 250 works, the retrospective exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma offers a broad overview of the key periods of Mapplethorpe’s career. In their aspiration for perfection, Mapplethorpe’s pictures blend beauty and eroticism with pain, pleasure and death.

Mapplethorpe was certainly an outstanding photographer who pushed the boundaries in terms of his technique and, especially, his subject matter. There were warnings plastered all over the gallery about the explicit nature of many of the photographs. He’s most noted for his “celebrity portraits” of Patti Smith and the many people he knew in New York and also for his sculptural depictions of the human body, and parts thereof (especially he more intimate parts of the male anatomy).

My view? I liked about half of his photos, but the subject matter of the other half was not to my taste at all.

The other two exhibitions featured works from the Finnish Museum’s collection.


Face to Face – Portrait Now

presents works from the Kiasma Collections and other contemporary artworks through the theme of portraiture. While some of the works are traditional self-portraits, many of the artists focus on the body or physical presence instead of the face and external likeness.

My favourite exhibition, however, was Elements, which was showing on the top floor of the building and which

explores our relationship with the world and the forces of nature through works of art from the Kiasma Collections.

Most, if not all, of the works on display had a scientific aspect to them – either through the concept or theme of the work or the materials used to create it.

I particularly liked this work by Mario Merz, Untitled (Igloo), 1989, which dominated one of the rooms


Dialogue (2014) by Anssi Pulkkinen & Taneli Rautiainen, made from LED lights supported on a suspended aluminium frame, was inspired by Viginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, in particular a dialogue at the beginning of the second part of the novel.

It was positioned very effectively so that as the dark drew in the sculpture was reflected in the glass of the large window overlooking the adjacent gardens and the Music Centre


and could also be seen from outside the building




An interesting work, very effectively displayed.

Think of One Thing, 2002 by Mariele Neudecker was also very interesting and effective. Miniature mist-covered mountain tops displayed in glass tanks.



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