Beyond Helsinki’s museums, visiting art fans should take note of the city’s artist-run galleries. The best-known small galleries are located in the centre of the city, while new alternative spaces have recently emerged in trend-conscious neighbourhoods such as Kallio.
Acclimating oneself with Helsinki’s art scene is easy, as many gallery spaces in the centre of town are located close to one another. During just one walking tour, one can visit several different galleries and get a good sense of Finnish contemporary art and the local art scene.
At the city’s most central galleries, one can get acquainted with a range of art forms, from photography and painting to video and sculpture. Among the galleries regularly showcasing noteworthy contemporary art are Galerie Forsblom and Galerie Anhava.
Helsinki is a modern, pocket-sized European city known for design and high technology. Helsinki’s attractive and unique character comes from its proximity to the sea, as well as its location between the East and the West.
According to critic Timo Valjakka, Helsinki is home to roughly half a dozen commercial and artistically ambitious contemporary art galleries. An active art fan, he adds, usually visits exhibits at Forsblom and Anhava, as both showcase works from A-list artists.
Among galleries run by local artists’ associations is Sculptor at Helsinki’s South Harbour, which, true to its name, shows sculptures. Another one is Hippolyte, which specialises in photography and will move into a new space in the centre of Helsinki in early 2012. Near these two are also other galleries run by artists’ organisations. Forum Box near Hietalahti market, for example, hosts various events in addition to exhibits.
Finnish and Nordic contemporary art
Located in Sanomatalo (Sanoma House), a building that’s also home to some of Finland’s largest newspapers, Galerie Anhava focuses on Finnish and Nordic contemporary art. On display are video installations, photographs, paintings and sculptures. Anhava upholds artistic traditions and is one of the city’s best-known gallery spaces. Pictured are works by Eggert Pétursson.
Kallio has an alternative advantage
Gallery Alkovi (”alcove”), located on Helsinginkatu street in the former working-class neighbourhood of Kallio, is a gallery inside a store window. The exhibit audience is made up of passersby. A number of new galleries popped up in the laid-back area during 2011, including Kallio Kunsthalle and Kingi Kongi.
The most international in Helsinki?
Galerie Forsblom has resided in many addresses during its 30 years of existence. Today the gallery is located in a space of 680 square metres on Lönnrotinkatu in the city centre, and has become known for its internationally oriented approach. Forsblom has brought many foreign names to Helsinki, and also takes part in international art expos. Pictured is a work from Jussi Niva’s exhibit in early 2012.
“Forsblom is the only one that shows international megastars such as Julian Schnabel, Peter Halley and Tony Oursler. At Anhava, meanwhile, one can check out big-name Nordic artists in addition to Finnish works,” says Valjakka. Among other commercial galleries he also singles out Helsinki Contemporary as well as Heino, Ama and Korjaamo galleries.
Young and established
Gallery Helsinki Contemporary relocated to Bulevardi, one of Helsinki’s most beautiful and best-known streets, in September of 2011. The gallery represents both young and established, Finnish and Nordic, artists. The space was established in 2007, and is one of Helsinki’s largest. Pictured is a work from artist Maiju Salmenkivi’s exhibit, Splash, from early 2012.
Avant-garde and alternative attitudes
Those in search of avant-garde can head to Kluuvi or Sinne galleries and also stay updated on happenings at two small Huuto (”scream”) galleries.
Oksasenkatu 11 in Töölö is a noteworthy alternative gallery. Napa gallery and Myymälä2 in the neighbourhood of Punavuori boast a youthful attitude. The spirited, arts-oriented neighbourhood of Kallio is also home to a gallery scene: among its best spaces are Alkovi, Kallio Kunsthalle and Kingi Kongi; the quickly emerging Suvilahti neighbourhood, meanwhile, has Make Your Mark, which promotes street art.
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