Petri Ala-Maunus: History and Utopia of Landscape
Artist Petri Ala-Maunus (b. 1970) has become well-known for his large-scale and romantic landscape paintings. The artist’s oeuvre shows how much he can still find in an apparent saturated topic: the landscape. In his first solo museum exhibition, Ala-Maunus presents his latest works, and creates a dialogue with the collection of classics from the Ostrobothnian Museum in Vaasa.
The exhibition is built in dialogue with the art-historical landscape painting, but is also based on interaction with the The Karl Hedman Collection. The starting point of the exhibition is History and Utopia of Landscape, a piece the artist presented in Finland’s largest art competition, Ars Fennica. The 14-meter monumental painting is a synthesis, in which the artist materialises an ideal landscape. The intervention in the collection is based on his painting Vaara-Suomi (Hill-Finland), which temporarily replaced Eero Järnefelt’s painting Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) (1893) at Ateneum. In Vaasa as well, the starting point for the contemporary artist’s solo exhibition is similar intervention in the permanent exhibition.
Equally inspired by the art sold at a market stalls, the Watchtower magazine, and the Düsseldorf and Hudson River Schools, the artist treats classical painting like a collage – with elements connected together. With his landscape paintings, Petri Ala-Maunus immerses himself in The Karl Hedman Collection at the Ostrobothnian Museum. On one hand, some of the works are connected with the colossal work in the space of temporary exhibitions, on the other hand, contemporary art merges into the historical Hedman floor. The temporality of the exhibition is built on the aging of the works, which is often the concern of conservators – and which Ala-Maunus seeks.
Ala-Maunus works in Helsinki and is born in Ostrobothnia, Kuortane. The artist’s original way of painting is a combination of banal sunset by conceptual means; his research into painting and especially into the concept of landscape has sought unconventional solutions such as a flame-shaped landscape or the diamond shape of the traditional Ostrobothnian belt. Ala-Maunus is uncompromising in his art, and at the same time a great favourite of the audience. Ars Fennica’s 2019 audience voted him the best artist of the exhibition.
Photos: Jefunne Gimpel and Christoffer Björklund