From 22 February to 19 May 2019, the Ateneum Art Museum will present an exhibition of works by the Czech artist František Kupka (1871–1957). Kupka’s art has been described as “modern poetry of colour”. This major international exhibition will feature Kupka’s most important works from, for example, Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim in New York, and the National Gallery in Prague. To be shown concurrently with the exhibition will be Tarja Ervasti’s interactive work of light art, Colour Music with Fractures, which combines the themes of Kupka’s art.
A highly topical exhibition – the themes of human spiritual development are as relevant as ever
The Czech artist František Kupka is known as a pioneer of abstract art. The retrospective of the painter, who enjoyed a long career in Paris, will enable viewers to explore the history of Western art: the step-by-step transition from traditional portraiture towards abstract expression. In his powerful and almost psychedelic works, Kupka applied Newton’s colour theory, as well as music theory: you can sense rhythm and movement in his paintings. Three of the exhibition galleries will show Kupka’s works with jazz and classical music playing in the background.
No major retrospective exhibition of works by Kupka has previously been seen in Finland. This exhibition will cover the artist’s entire career, from the 1890s to the 1950s. A total of 150 works will be on display, including oil paintings, prints, drawings and watercolours. The works are on loan from major museums and private collections in Europe and the United States.
“The themes of abstract art and the spiritual world are currently topical. The Hilma af Klint exhibition currently showing at the Guggenheim in New York has been extremely popular. Its popularity proves that our time longs for art that deals with profound themes”, says the curator of the exhibition and chief curator at the Ateneum, Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff.
Tarja Ervasti’s work of light art to bring together the themes of Kupka’s art
In connection with the exhibition, visitors can discover the light artist Tarja Ervasti’s work Colour Music with Fractures, which creates musical landscapes using colour, light and sound. The viewer can choose the colours to go with the compositions that are heard in the work, thus creating endless variations. The work is a meditative space that sensitises viewers to discover the interrelationships between colour and music. The installation includes references to colour music, which is art based on the phenomenon of synaesthesia. The music in the work is composed by Willie Budsko. The user interface design is by Jokke Heikkilä.
The exhibition strengthens Ateneum’s international ties
The exhibition is co-produced with La Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN)/Grand Palais and the National Gallery in Prague. RMN was also a collaboration partner for the Amedeo Modigliani exhibition, which was shown at the Ateneum in the winter 2016–2017.
The curators of the exhibition shown at the Grand Palais in Paris in the summer of 2018 were Brigitte Leal (Centre Georges Pompidou), Markéta Theinhardt and Pierre Brullé, as well as Anna Pravdová (the National Gallery in Prague). The exhibition to be shown at the Ateneum is curated by the chief curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff. The exhibition design is by Osmo Leppälä.
Produced by the Ateneum, an exhibition book with colourful illustrations will be published in Finnish, Swedish and English. The articles in the book represent the latest in international research on Kupka and are written by Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, Rodolphe Rapetti, Markéta Theinhardt, Brigitte Leal, Pierre Brullé, Anna Pravdová and Karel Srp.
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen