Pekka Halonen 150 years

b. 1865 Lapinlahti – d. 1933 Tuusula

Pekka Halonen, who came from a peasant background, studied at the Finnish Art Society Drawing School at the Ateneum beginning in 1885. During his final year of studies, 1890, he produced the charcoal drawing The Young Artist among others. That same year he earned a stipend to go to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian. In Paris, he befriended Finnish artists Axel Gallén (later Gallen-Kallela), Eero Järnefelt and Emil Wikström.

Halonen’s works were first shown publicly at an exhibition arranged by the Artists’ Association of Finland in 1891. That autumn Halonen went back to Paris, returning the following summer, when he travelled with his brother to Karelia. There, in Ruskeala, he painted works such as The Short-Cut (1892). In 1893 Halonen went to Paris with Väinö Blomstedt. He broke off his studies at the Académie Colarossi in February 1894, when he became a student at Paul Gauguin’s private academy. Halonen became more interested in philosophy and esotericism. During this trip, he painted Still Life. In Paris, Halonen also became fascinated by Japanese woodblocks and Gauguin’s synthetism, as well as the understated mural paintings of Puvis de Chavannes.

Pekka and Maija Halonen married in 1895. The following year, they travelled via Berlin to Florence, Siena, Rome and Naples, as Halonen wanted to study early Renaissance art. In 1900 Halonen created two works for the Finnish Pavilion at the Paris World Exposition, including Washing on the Ice. He earned a silver medal in the exposition’s art competition. During the winter of 1901-02, his studio home, Halosenniemi, was completed on the shore of Lake Tuusula.

Halonen’s 1904 Italian trip took him via St Petersburg and Vienna to Florence, where he painted landscapes in the hills of Fiesole. Rowan Tree, paintedin Tuusula in 1908, ushered in a period when he used a more colourful palette. The landscapes of Lake Tuusula in various seasons were an endless source of inspiration. Halonen became particularly known as a painter of snow-covered trees and landscapes, such as the sunny Winter Landscape (1932).


Pekka Nevalainen’s Nature Documentary (1993-95), which is part of the National Gallery collection, challenges our traditional idea of a landscape. Whereas Pekka Halonen’s landscape paintings show us an intact, painterly landscape, Nevalainen shows it to us through details detached from their original context and through recordings played through video monitors. In its broadest form, the installation includes diverse references to nature: birch trunks, sculpture-like leaves, car tyres, spruce seedlings arranged in glass cases and elements that refer to hunting. At the forefront is the question of our relationship to nature – how does our activity affect it? And how do we treat our environment?

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