Ulla Rantanen: Kivi vedessä (1980). Kansallisgalleria / Ateneumin taidemuseo. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Petri Virtanen.
Ulla Rantanen: Kivi vedessä (1980). Kansallisgalleria / Ateneumin taidemuseo. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Petri Virtanen.

Silent Beauty invites you to admire the interplay of visual arts, ceramics and kimonos

From 14 June to 6 October 2019, the Ateneum Art Museum presents the exhibition Silent Beauty – Nordic and East-Asian Interaction. The exhibition delves into the simplified aesthetic that connects the Nordic countries and East Asia, especially in post-World War II art. The exhibition celebrates Finland’s and Japan’s continued active interaction: in the year 2019, one hundred years will have passed since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries. On the first day of the exhibition, we will celebrate the Ateneum Summer Party from 10:00 to 18:00, with free admission to the exhibition.  

Nordic and East Asian art share the idea of everyday beauty and a connection with nature

The Silent Beauty exhibition juxtaposes visual art, ceramics, textile art and architecture by Finnish, Swedish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese artists. The works display a simplified and dynamic aesthetic: geometric shapes, sophisticated colours, and an appreciation of materials link the pieces exhibited. The exhibits include beautiful and functional everyday objects, such as sophisticated Asian ceramics and kimonos. The paintings, drawings and prints included in the exhibition feature abstract themes, as well as landscapes and still lifes. The exhibition includes more than 200 works, of which approximately one third are from the Ateneum collection.

The rich exhibition offers a meditative experience: at Silent Beauty, visitors can experience the atmosphere of Finnish nature and winter, in the centre of Helsinki. The exhibition features an abundance of Japanese art and artefacts. Both Finland and Japan have four seasons and share an interest in nature.

Silent Beauty continues the themes of the popular Japanomania

Silent Beauty – Nordic and East-Asian Interaction is a continuation of the exhibition Japanomania in the Nordic Countries 1875–1918, which was presented at the Ateneum in spring 2016. The popular exhibition prompted an examination of how the phenomenon continued in the 20th century, and what new forms it took. Where does the simplified Nordic aesthetic come from, and how is it connected to visual arts? Why does the Nordic aesthetic appeal particularly to East Asian people?

Silent Beauty specifically explores the two-way interaction between the cultures: the exhibition project demonstrates that East Asian art was also influenced by the Nordic aesthetic. Nordic artists, designers and architects travelled to Japan, and correspondingly, Japanese artists and designers travelled to Europe and the Nordic countries. Nordic artists took influences from China and Korea, as well as Japan.

The artists featured in the exhibition include Heidi Blomstedt, Shoji Hamada, Erkki Heikkilä, Rune Jansson, Aimo Kanerva, Carl Kylberg, Maija and Ahti Lavonen, Bernard Leach, Ufan Lee, Ulla Rantanen, Kyllikki Salmenhaara, Key Sato, Helene Schjerfbeck, Jaakko Sievänen, Per Stenius, Zao Wou-Ki and Samiro Yunoki. The exhibition presents a large number of works from Japan, including from the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art, Hayama. Works are on loan from, for example, the Design Museum in Helsinki, the Gothenburg Museum of Art and the Moderna Museet in in Sweden, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

Silent Beauty is co-produced by the Ateneum Art Museum and the Prins Eugen’s Waldemarsudde art museum in Stockholm. The curators of the Ateneum exhibition are Anne-Maria Pennonen and Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff. The exhibition will be on display at Prins Eugen’s Waldemarsudde in spring 2020. The exhibition coincides with the release of a publication, in Finnish, Swedish and English, produced by the Ateneum.

Free admission to the Ateneum Summer Party on the opening day

Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating the exhibition opening and the Ateneum Summer Party on Friday 14 June, 10:00 to 18:00. Free admission! During the day, you can, for example, explore the Silent Beauty and Stories of Finnish Art exhibitions, participate in a flower workshop, enjoy the singing of the Kallion Kantaattikuoro choir in the main stairwell, or let loose to the beat of Finnish pop hits with Ville Leinonen & Futureiman. You are also invited to listen to the opening speeches in the Ateneum courtyard at 16:00. View the full programme

Events related to the exhibition

Check out all the events at the event calendar

Thursdays 22 Aug, 29 Aug, 5 Sep and 12 Sep, 9:00–10:00
Back to work – morning yoga at the Ateneum. Now is your chance to experience something new! Tickets: €25 per class from the Ateneum online shop.

Thursdays 29 Aug, 12 Sep and 26 Sep, 17:00
Silent Beauty lecture series
The speakers include the curator Anne-Maria Pennonen, the chief curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff and the architect Severi Blomstedt. In Finnish.

Sat 14 Sep, 11:00–15:30
Silent Beauty theme day
During the day, you can listen to lectures in the Ateneum Hall, sink your hands into clay in a workshop, or participate in a guided mindfulness tour of the exhibition. The lectures in the Ateneum Hall are moderated by the curator of the exhibition, Anne-Maria Pennonen. In Finnish.

Private guided tours, including the Under the Surface guided tour
During this guided tour, intended for small groups, the emphasis is on calmly enjoying a few selected works. The materiality of art is also felt through the sense of touch, with the help of small ceramic objects.

Ulla Rantanen: Stone in the Water (1980). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Petri Virtanen.