Outi Heiskanen

The arts academician Outi Heiskanen (born 1937) is one of the most famous Finnish artists. Heiskanen’s retrospective exhibition will bring together different facets of her diverse and multidisciplinary art. The exhibition of more than 300 works will present prints, paintings, installations, films, and performance art. The exhibition is curated by Tuula Karjalainen, PhD, together with the chief curator at the Ateneum, Sointu Fritze.

  • 8.10.2021–9.1.2022
3rd floor
Tickets: with a museum ticket
A woman sits on a dock by a lake, reading a book barefeet. Black and white photo.
Outi Heiskanen in Syysjärvi in 1988. Photo: Sakari Viika.

a retrospective of the arts academician

The mythical world created by Outi Heiskanen is full of stories about the mysteries of being human and our relationship with nature. In her characters, the boundary between man and animal can be blurred when the focus is on our basic instincts and the cycle of life. Her works, created using various techniques, intertwine womanhood, motherhood, eroticism and death. The works are characterised by her undeniable virtuosity, and a desire to experiment, which is sometimes even anarchistic in its flouting of the rules.

Community and close friendships have played a key role in Outi Heiskanen’s art since the 1970s. The legendary performances by the Record Singers and Bellini-akatemia (‘Bellini Academy’), which were formed around Heiskanen, paved the way for the emergence of performance art. One of the most memorable performances was Kluuvin ruhje (‘Kluuvi fracture), which was seen at the closing event of the Ateneum Art Museum before its renovation in 1984. Siirrettävä Tuonela (‘Movable Tuonela’), which was created by Heiskanen and her artist friends in 1983, spread around the park of the Meilahti Art Museum, constituting one of the first exhibitions of environmental art in Finland.

Outi Heiskanen’s most important mentor, the graphic artist Pentti Kaskipuro (Mestari K; ‘Master K’), has stated:

“Outi is the yeast that makes the dough rise, whatever the context. Her artistic expression is completely untouchable: she relies on tradition, yet she is completely original and open-minded.”

The opening of the exhibition coincides with the publication of a biography of Outi Heiskanen written by Tuula Karjalainen (Siltala Publishing).