Outi Heiskanen

The arts academician Outi Heiskanen (born 1937) is one of the most famous Finnish artists. Heiskanen is a virtuoso printmaker, but also an experimenter who questions the rules and breaks boundaries. Heiskanen is also known as a pioneer of performance art and land and environmental art. The exhibition is curated by an expert on Heiskanen’s art and her long-time friend, 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

Outi Heiskanen’s retrospective exhibition brings together different facets of her diverse and multidisciplinary art. The exhibition, featuring more than 300 works, presents prints, drawings, paintings and installations, as well as recordings of performances from a period of more than fifty years. The exhibition also features a whole gallery’s worth of joint works by Outi Heiskanen and the photographer Janne Laine.

Shedding light on the course of the prolific artist’s life is a rich selection of photographs and moving images, created, for example, by Sakari Viika, Jorma Puranen, Tarja Stranden and Georg Grotenfelt.

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.”

Nature and the mysteries of being human

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 performances by the Record Singers and Bellini-akatemia (‘Bellini Academy’), which were formed around Heiskanen, were legendary.

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.

The opening of the exhibition coincides with the publication of the biography Outi Heiskanen – Taiteilija kuin shamaani (‘Outi Heiskanen – Artist and shaman’), written by Tuula Karjalainen (Siltala 2021).

A guided tour for your group


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Guided tour: Outi Heiskanen

The arts academician Outi Heiskanen (born 1937) is one of the most famous Finnish artists. Heiskanen is a virtuoso printmaker, but also an experimenter who questions the rules and breaks boundaries. Heiskanen is also known as a pioneer of performance art and land and environmental art.

Restrictions may have an effect on the group size and availability.

Tour languages: Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian
Price: €95 + tickets, school groups €70
Group size: Max. 20 persons, school groups max. 25 persons
Length: ca. 1 h

Exhibition intro: Outi Heiskanen

Animal character with a hat covering the eyes. Black and white image.

The arts academician Outi Heiskanen (born 1937) is one of the most famous Finnish artists. Heiskanen is a virtuoso printmaker, but also an experimenter who questions the rules and breaks boundaries. Heiskanen is also known as a pioneer of performance art and land and environmental art.

Exhibition intro is held in the Ateneum Hall, where you can sit comfortably while listening to an expert present the content and background of the exhibition. Images of the art are displayed at the same time. Following the intro you can enjoy the exhibition at your own pace.

Restrictions may have an effect on the group size and availability.

Tour languages: Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian
Price: €5/person + tickets
Group size: 10–134 persons
Length: 30 min

Virtual guided tour: Outi Heiskanen

The artists' interpretation of the plant blood root. The image features grey and red colours.

The arts academician Outi Heiskanen (born 1937) is one of the most famous Finnish artists. The tour does not take place in the exhibition galleries, but the guide presents the themes and works using a visual presentation. There is an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the tour.

The tour is provided to participants as a guide-led session on Microsoft Teams. You can participate in the tour as a group or individually from your own workstation, following the link we provide.

With mobile devices, you must download the Teams application. With a computer you can join the tour using a browser. The recommended browser is the newest version of Chrome or Edge. To participate in a virtual guided tour, you need a network connection with a minimum speed of 10 Mbit/s, or a 4G connection. Recording the virtual guided tour is prohibited.

Tour languages: Finnish, Swedish and English
Price: 20 persons €95, 40 persons €170, for schools €70
Group size: max. 40 persons
Duration: 45 min

Artworks at the exhibition