Petri Ala-Maunus

Ars Fennica candidate 2019

When Petri Ala-Maunus (b.1970) was younger and thought about what he would do as an artist, he decided to proceed via negation. Because landscape painting interested him the least, he decided to start painting landscapes, but in his own way. During the 1990s, he became known for his skilful, often saccharine sunsets, which were created not only on canvases of different sizes, but also on almost any type of material, ranging from pizza boxes to maple leaves.

The sunsets are not just a matter of ironic play, of transposing the clichés of Sunday-market art to the framework of contemporary art. These serial works that resemble each other raise questions about the nature of the romantic landscape and about the human contribution to the meanings it contains.

Five years ago, Ala-Maunus went over to paintings without a trace of human presence. They are majestic views into a pre or post-human world, and astonishingly precisely executed. When we are faced with them it feels as though all the elements of Antiquity had been set loose at once.

The paintings are greatly indebted to the romantic landscape art that emerged at the Düsseldorf Academy in the 19th century. The Romantics favoured untouched, untamed nature, which they depicted in fine detail, dramatizing it as larger than human life, as simultaneously arousing both fear and awe. Similar aspirations can be detected in Ala-Maunus’ works.

Real-life mountains and waterfalls were not enough for the Romantics. Their works are composites, painted collages constructed in the studio. Ala-Maunus, too, assembles his paintings out of dozens of parts and details. They are simulations of the landscape in Jean Baudrillard’s sense – copies without an original. They are nameless places dating thousands of years from the present moment, but in which direction? Creation story and end of the world go hand in hand.

One of the challenges for the Düsseldorfers was to get their composite images to be coherent. One device for this was limiting the palette to a few kindred hues, somewhat in the same manner as in black-and-white photographs. Ala-Maunus, too, frequently bases his paintings on just three or four colours. But, unlike his predecessors, he reveals the fictive nature of the paintings by leaving passages in them that shatter the illusion. They remind us that this is a painting, a two-dimensional surface covered in paint.

The vast mountain ranges, the wildly foaming cascades and the dark-limbed fir trees are rendered almost as supernatural in Ala-Maunus’ paintings. Being from the countryside, he has both a living relationship with nature and a respect for skilled handicraft inherited from his home. He paints subjects that he likes and does so just as he wants, aiming for perfection. “If only I could do that even better,” he often thinks when facing a painting that he has just completed.

Timo Valjakka

Born 1970 | Lives and works in Helsinki, Finland


2011 The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, MFA | Helsinki, Finland
1993 Kankaanpää Institute of Art | Finland


2018 The New Wild | MAKASIINI CONTEMPORARY, Turku, Finland
2016 Turku Art Museum, Studio | Turku, Finland
2015 Gallery Heino | Helsinki, Finland
2013 Gallery Sculptor | Helsinki, Finland
2011 Gallery Husa | Tampere, Finland
2009 Mother’s Tankstation | Dublin, Ireland
2006 LARMgalleri | Copenhagen, Denmark
LISTE 06, The Young Art Fair | Basel, Switzerland (represented by Mother’s Tankstation)
Mother’s Tankstation | Dublin, Ireland
2005 Kluuvi Gallery | Helsinki, Finland
2003 Gallery Bronda | Helsinki, Finland
2001 Gallery Titanik | Turku, Finland
2000 Gallery Bronda | Helsinki, Finland


2018 Summer 2018 | MAKASIINI CONTEMPORARY, Turku, Finland
Monkey and Waterfall | Sara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere, Finland
2017 With Seven-league Boots. Stop – Finland: Works from the Kiasma Collection | Art Museum RIGA BOURSE, Riga, Latvia
Constellations | Exhibition Laboratory, Helsinki, Finland
EXTENSION.FI: End of the World in the Mysterious Forest | Triumph Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Me: Self-Portraits Through Time | Helsinki Art Hall, Finland
Backstage | Joensuu Art Museum, Finland
Stories of Finnish Art | Ateneum, Helsinki, Finland
2016 Finlayson Art Area | Tampere, Finland
Pyhäniemen Manor | Hollola, Finland
Kiasma’s Collection Exhibition | Helsinki, Finland
From Heino With Love | Helsinki Art Museum HAM, Finland
2014 Pyhäniemi Manor | Hollola, Finland
Gallery Heino | Helsinki, Finland
2013 Die Kunstfahrschule | Ulm, Germany
Greetings from Family | Gallery Huuto Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, Finland
Turku Biennial 2013, Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova –museum | Turku, Finland
Sublimate, Sublime, Subliminal | Lloyds Club and The Underdog Gallery, London, England
2012 Love Songs and Lullabies | Suomesta gallery, Berlin, Germany
Flush | Toilets of Helsinki City Hall, Finland
Thank You for the Music | Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland
Ekolandia | Lahti Art Museum, Finland
2011 Kuvan Kevät 2011, the Degree Show | Finnish Academy of Fine Arts Gallery, Helsinki, Finland
2010 One, Two, Three, Four | Gallery Himmelblau, Tampere, Finland
Virtually Real | Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
Naturalia | Villa Roosa, Orimattila, Finland
Hauska tutustua | The Holden Gallery, Manchester, England
2009 Planet Fun Fun | Kerava Art Museum, Finland
Worth Painting | The Finnish Painters’ Union 80th Anniversary Exhibition, Amos Anderson Art Museum,
Helsinki, Finland
2008 Spazi Aperti | The Romanian Academy, Rome, Italy
Headhunters | Showroom X, Helsinki, Finland
Layers of Memory | The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Berlin, Felleshus, Berlin, Germany
The Finnish Breakfast Show | LARMgalleri, Copenhagen, Denmark
Absolutely Clean | Rauma Art Museum, Finland
2007 The 25 Best Artists in Finland | The Mänttä Art Festival, Mänttä, Finland
2006 Absolute painting | The Flat/Massimo Carasi, Milan, Italy
Getting on Mother’s Nerves | Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, Ireland
Mother’s Ruin | Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, Ireland
51. Exhibition of the Young Artists | Helsinki Art Hall, Finland (also 2003, 2001, 1995 and 1992)
2005 Art Omi International Artists’ Residency | Omi, New York, USA
Nordic Landscape | Dronninglund Kunstcenter, Dronninglund, Denmark
110. Exhibition of Finnish Artists | Helsinki Art Hall, Finland (also 2002, 2000, 1998 and 1995)
2004 Art Container | Trondelag Senter for Samtidskunst, Trondheim, Norway
Art Container | Filosofgangen, Odense, Denmark
2003 Art Container | Konstforum, Norrköping, Sweden
Art Container | Art Center Mältinranta, Tampere, Finland
2000 Europe Prize for Painting, Municipal Museum, Oostende, Belgium


2016 The Art Council of Finland (three year grant) | Finland
2015 Finnish Cultural Foundation | Finland
Alfred Kordelin Foundation | Finland
2014 The Art Council of Finland (one year grant, also 2009) | Finland
2013 Public Display Grant for Visual Artists (also 2000) | Finland
2012 Finnish Cultural Foundation (one year grant, also 2008 and 2003) | Finland
2010 William Thuring Art Prize | Finland
2008 Finnish Cultural Foundation (one year grant, also 2003) | Finland
2007 The Art Council of Pirkanmaa (one year grant) | Finland
2006 City of Tampere (also 1999 and 1996) | Finland
2000 Public Display Grant for Visual Artists | Finland
1994 Young Ostrobothnian Artist of the Year | Finland


Sara Hildén Art Museum | Finland
Turku Art Museum | Finland
The Zabludowicz Collection | London, United Kingdom
HSH Nordbank | Hamburg, Germany
Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma | Finland
Helsinki City Art Museum | Finland
Amos Anderson Art Museum | Finland
Collection Swanljung | Finland
Collection Heino | Finland
Matti Koivurinta Foundation | Finland
Saastamoinen Foundation | Finland
Wihuri Foundation | Finland
Paulo Foundation | Finland
State of Finland
Finnish Art Society
Parliament of Finland
Raimo Anttila Foundation | Finland
City of Tampere | Finland

Österland, 2018, öljy kankaalle, 150 x 170 cm
Tampereen kaupunki
photo © Rauno Träskelin


Backwater, 2018, öljy kankaalle, 150 x 170 cm
photo © Rauno Träskelin


Winterfell, 2018, öljy kankaalle, 170 x 200 cm
Wihurin säätiö
photo © Rauno Träskelin


Foto:Hannu Pakarinen Kansallisgalleria
Vaara-Suomi (Fells After the Fall, Fjäll och fördärv), 2017, öljy kankaalle 150 x 170 cm
Heinon taidesäätiö


The Great Deluge, 2016, öljy kankaalle 220 x 850 cm
Sara Hildènin taidemuseo
photo © Vesa Aaltonen