KEMI. What is naive art to you? Something done by amateurs? Something appealing to a broad audience? Something opposed to academic art?
Tanja Kavasvuo, curator at the Kemi Art Museum put it this way. ”Naivism is contemporary art, but it differs from the mainstream with its representational and telling nature. A naivistic work of art usually does not hide any big pictorial riddles, but deeper down, it may contain a lot of hidden meanings and possibilities for interpretation. The image world is fabulous, harmonious and pretty painted. On canvas, sympathetic people, and often anthropomorphous animals or mythical beasts live together in a ”prelapsarian” state of bliss. Life is carefree, humorous and idyllic. Loss and setbacks are dealt with in lyrical melancholy. The themes stem from the artist, such as his or hers memories, dreams or reveries”.
The description goes well with the French pioneer of the genre, Henry Rousseau, with his paintings of lions, palms and people, living together in harmony. This year´s summer exhibition at the Kemi Art Museum is titled ” Feral summer – A Jubilant Celebration of Naivistic Art.” The landscapes look more Arctic than Rousseau´s and Finnish people and phenomenas here fill the canvases. It is indeed a colourful, and often humorous experience to wander along the 91 artworks in the museum. The paintings are from the Gallup Foundation’s art collection, one of Finland’s most significant collections of naive art. They have not been shown to a northern audience before.
The most prominent local artist represented in the exhibition is Leima Kauppi (1917-1999). This year, the 100 year anniversary of her birth will be celebrated. The museum has also published a coloring book based on her works. Other local artists in the exhibition are also represented by Henna Takkinen and Markku Riihijärvi. Famous young painter Petra Heikkilä-Perkiö (born 1976) is represented with her dog and cat portraits.
Cover: Petra Heikkilä-Perkiö´s Cat portrait