Sirpa Alalääkkölä’s art exhibition in Rantalinna

Sirpa Alalääkkölä was born in Alatornio, Finland in 1964 and is now living in New Zealand. She has studied in the Art School of Lapland in Tornio (1984-1990), Academy of Fine Arts (1985-1990) and at the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki. Her way from being a small Finnish town dweller to a cosmopolitan artist living in New Zealand seems to be a very determined choice. The fact that she studied in the Academy of Fine Arts and at the University of Arts and Design simultaneously in the end of 1980’s proves the amount of determination of the artist.

The first true evidence of her artistic skills was the Teräspiikit comic book (Like 1987) and Aino triptych (1988), in which a punky version of Aino from Kalevala escaped Väinämöinen into the steely embrace of a lake. Alalääkkölä was only 23 years old when she finished this work. It is now part of the collections of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Arts in Helsinki. In the beginning of the 1990’s, Alalääkkölä left Finland and was granted a Fulbright scholarship to the New York University. After she finished her studies in the USA, she travelled around the world and earned a living with her artwork. She visited places like New Zealand, India, Australia, Tasmania and Tonga. She stayed in one place for three or four months, rented a studio, painted and finally held an exhibition.

In 1996, the Aine Art Museum displayed Alalääkkölä’s works that she had painted on her journeys to India, Tonga and New Zealand. Already, man was an essential figure in her paintings. The realistic style changed into more caricaturist direction, to the imagery that can be seen in cartoons and posters. In these caricaturist works Alalääkkölä highlighted the invasion of the American super market culture to the remotest corners of the world. On one hand, she was a bystander or an outsider and on the other hand, she was a member of society she observed. Her style is moralistic by no means, but rather humoristic and liberating.

In 1998, Sirpa Alalääkkölä painted a series of works called Lives and works in Finland as the first artist of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Arts project studio.

Alalääkkölä depicts the life of the unknown immigrants in Finland. Cultural comparisons are enjoyable: a Japanese girl is depicted wearing the Lapp costume and a New Zealander is playing an instrument with the famous Tree Smiths Statue of Helsinki on the background.

Alalääkkölä’s works are somewhat idealizing in nature similar to posters or socialistic realism. The works, however, retain a warm painterly approach and the observation of subtleties. Above all, they deal with a very current topic by commenting on Finland that is moving away from an insular and remote northern mono-culturalism to a more open, diverse and elaborate multi-culturalism. By depicting the gamut of people living in Finland, Alalääkkölä intention is to create a more positive attitude towards the foreigners. Sirpa Alalääkkölä’s paintings have strong colours, juicy picturesqueness and a cheerful feeling.

Sirpa Alalääkkölä settled in the Viippola International Artist Residence in Tornio around Easter 2002 and began to prepare her Aine Art Museum exhibition, in which she examines Finnishness from different perspectives.