If painting as art – thinking and feeling with paints – can be a completely inseparable and revealing expression of an artists' feel for life, it is just that in the work of Henry Wuorila-Stenberg. The retrospective exhibition at Art Museum Meilahti presents an artist’s career which, despite its astonishing richness and complexity, can be characterised simply as expressive: Wuorila-Stenberg charges every painting with his emotions, experiences, philosophy and even physical condition.
In a sense, Henry Wuorila-Stenberg began his career outside Finnish art both mentally and physically, going abroad to study painting. He has also made a career in teaching, including a professorship in painting at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, and his holistic approach to painting has influenced the development of many younger painters more than perhaps any other person.
The retrospective, curated by Kari Immonen from the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, comprises some 150 works, which bear witness to the many ways in which painting can be a form of thinking. They include portrayals of social ferment in Berlin in the 1970s and severe, completely black paintings. Wuorila-Stenberg has also had a period of pure white, and his works include paintings where the person – the Self – is found condensed in the colour harmonies. In addition, his repertoire includes the merry Buddhism-influenced paintings of the Himalaya series and brutal but sympathetic and self-ironic self-portraits.
His recent works are a return to the beginning. For the first time since his student years in the 1970s, he deals with social subjects. Hence the time is ripe for a retrospective look at his career.
In addition to large social panoramas from recent years, Art Museum Meilahti presents a series of several dozen journal-like, personal and visually uninhibited water colours that have never been seen in public before and reveal yet another aspect of Wuorila-Stenberg’s work.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Minerva Kustannus Oy in collaboration with the Helsinki City Art Museum and the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art will publish the book Henry Wuorila-Stenberg – Ristiriidasta myötätuntoon (Henry Wuorila-Stenberg – From conflict to compassion). Its authors are Berndt Arell, Kari Immonen, Pessi Rautio and Oliver Zybok. A concurrent exhibition at Galerie Anhava in Helsinki will present Wuorila-Stenberg’s most recent works. An exhibition comprising the recent works and the works shown in the retrospective will open in Turku at the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art at the beginning of 2005.
Guided tours: Guided tours will be organises free of charge to the public in Finnish on Wednesdays at 17 o’clock and on Sundays at 14 o’clock, and in Swedish on every second Sunday of each month at 13 o’clock. To book a private tour at another time or in another language, please call tel. +358 310 87003.