Amos Rex’s new exhibitions are a dialogue between visual art, music and architecture

Two interdisciplinary exhibitions are on display this summer at Helsinki’s Amos Rex art museum: Blick by visual artist Raija Malka and composer Kaija Saariaho fills the museum’s large hall, and Between us by Karoliina Hellberg, Tero Kuitunen and Raimo Saarinen expands outside of the exhibition halls.

Amos Rex Between us exhibition
One of the works in the Between us exhibition is Raimo Saarinen’s stone-themed piece titled “It started off as a molten mass until it crystallized and hardened. It travelled with the tectonic plates, rose up to become a mountain high above the Earth and crumbled. It travelled inside the ice and stayed where it was for a moment.”

THE UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE of Helsinki’s Amos Rex art museum serves as a central starting point for its two summer exhibitions that are open to visitors starting from 12 May.

The Between us exhibition launches Amos Rex’s studio exhibitions series, which brings art to spaces that have not previously been used for exhibitions. Artists Karoliina Hellberg, Tero Kuitunen and Raimo Saarinen were given a free hand to create new art for the spaces outside of the exhibition halls.

Amos Rex Between us exhibition
Finnish artists Raimo Saarinen, Karoliina Hellberg and Tero Kuitunen created six site-specific installations for the Between us exhibition.

The exhibition’s six works were designed specifically for the spaces of Amos Rex and the Bio Rex cinema. The works were born out of a dialogue with the building’s architecture and its chronological strata. They grow out of the space and around it, taking over the space and leading visitors from Amos Rex’s underground world to the functionalist views of Lasipalatsi. This study of spatiality took the artists into the realms of frantic consumer culture, a rewilding post-human world and parallel realities.

“We created our own independent entities for the exhibition but the interaction between us and the discussion of the works were essential parts of the process – in that way, too, the title of the exhibition Between us is very descriptive. When we saw our space for the exhibition for the first time, we all knew instinctively where in the space we would place our works and the harmony between them came into being as if by itself,” the artists say.

Amos Rex Between us exhibition
In Karoliina Hellberg’s installations, the worlds of paintings and works on paper extend beyond their frames.
Amos Rex Between us exhibition
“Each sculpture individually is a slightly odd, even poetic mystery. Together the works create narrative whole, where one can find absurd humour enmeshed with a more serious consideration of the state of the world,” Tero Kuitunen says.
Amos Rex Between us exhibition
Western concepts of nature and the co-existence of humans and plants are essential themes in Raimo Saarinen’s works.

Art for multiple senses

On display at the large exhibition hall is Blick, a multisensory total work of art by visual artist Raija Malka and composer Kaija Saariaho, that is at once painterly, spatial and musical. The exhibition takes us into the midst of a sound work by Saariaho and installations by Malka. The work features chairs and steps where visitors can sit and unhurriedly immerse themselves in the artwork’s world.

“Distances between important people, places and memories are mentally involved in the music for this exhibition, which began with my composition Stilleben. Nostalgia has been present in my life since I moved away from Finland. Raija and I share this feeling – also in regard to each other – as we lived in Paris at the same time for six years, and often worked together,” Saariaho says.

Amos Rex Blick exhibition
The Blick exhibition weaves together installations by artist Raija Malka and music by composer Kaija Saariaho.
Amos Rex Blick exhibition
The exhibition title, Blick (Gaze), is a reference to a 1912 poem by artist Wassily Kandinsky.

Blick, which was originally to have been shown in the summer of 2020 but was postponed by the pandemic, also reflects life during the coronavirus era. The exhibition has been expanded with works born out of the artists’ correspondence, in which Malka commented pictorially to musical notes sent by Saariaho.

“My installation Blick was born out of the world of Stilleben and its nostalgic undercurrent. However, working in the Amos Rex space brought new parts to the work: Utopie, Warten and Menschen. Kaija composed new music for these. Our collaboration is like playing a game: the ball bounces back and forth,” Malka says.

 Amos Rex Sigurd Frosterus collection
The Sigurd Frosterus collection presents a selection of colorist works, most of which date to 1905–1915.

Also, a selection of works from the Sigurd Frosterus collection will again be on display in Amos Rex’s collection hall. The hanging includes about 50 early twentieth-century colorist works by artists including Pierre Bonnard and Paul Signac of France as well as Magnus Enckell and Alfred William Finch, who worked in Finland. The Sigurd Frosterus Foundation collection is one of Finland’s first significant private collections of domestic and foreign modern art.

The new exhibitions open at Amos Rex on 12 May. Blick remains open until 22 August, while Between us continues until 5 September.

Edit: Nora Uotila Images: Sofia Okkonen, Stella Ojala ja Tuomas Uusheimo

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