Karita Kivikoski, MA student, University of Helsinki
This report is published as a result of a three-month research internship at the Finnish National Gallery
During my internship at the Finnish National Gallery I studied the Finnish painter Leena Luostarinen (1949–2013) and her exhibition reviews in the Finnish daily newspapers. Using these sources, I was able to gain some insight into the Finnish art debate taking place in the 1980s and 1990s. Luostarinen is associated with the new painting and expressionism of the 1980s, as well as the powerful emergence of women painters at that time. In addition, a romantic attitude can be found in her art. The new painting in Finland did not emerge as a counter-reaction to minimalism or the ‘linguistic’ nature of conceptual art or its over-intellectualisation, as had been the case internationally. In Finland, it was rather a reaction to the ideological and realistic content in art. The starting point of the new painting in Finland at this time was therefore different than it was internationally.
 Luostarinen studied at the School of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland in 1968–72. She received the Ducat prize awarded by the Finnish Art Society in 1974 and the Pro Finlandia Medal in 1995. She was selected as the Artist of the Year in 1988. For more about Leena Luostarinen, see http://www.leenaluostarinen.com (accessed 22 October 2020).
 In the beginning of the 1980s the resurgence of painting was a counter-reaction against conceptual art and its lack of images as well as over-intellectualism. Hannu Castrén. ‘Maalaan, olen siis olemassa!’, in Helena Sederholm et al. (eds.), Pinx, Maalaustaide Suomessa. Siveltimen vetoja. Porvoo: Weilin + Göös Oy, 2003, (210–11) 210.
 Marja-Terttu Kivirinta. ‘Sfinksejä ja kissoja. Leena Luostarisen pensseli ottaa etäisyyttä modernin taiteen genealogiaan’, in Marja-Terttu Kivirinta, Lasse Saarinen, Leena Luostarinen, Camilla Ahlström-Taavitsainen, Otso Kantokorpi, Päivi Karttunen, Jüri Kokkonen and Pirkko Tuukkanen (eds.), Leena Luostarinen: Tiikerinpiirtäjä = Tigertecknaren = Tiger Drawer. Helsinki: Suomen taideyhdistys, 2013, (15–22) 17; Kimmo Sarje. Romantiikka ja postmoderni. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1989.
 The art object was no longer a unique and special ‘means of expression made by hand’. New means of expression came up and the way of expressing conceptual art became ‘linguistic’, even when images were used. Marja Sakari. Käsitetaiteen etiikkaa: suomalaisen käsitetaiteen postmodernia ja fenomenologista tulkintaa. Dimensio 4. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery, 2000, 26.
 Inkamaija Iitiä. Käsitteellisestä ruumiilliseen, sitaatiosta paikkaan: maalaustaide ja nykytaiteen historia. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto, 2008, 212; Castrén, ‘Maalaan, olen siis olemassa!’, 210.
Featured image: Leena Luostarinen, Rain, 1981, oil on canvas, 100cm x 180cm. Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Antti Kuivalainen
Read more — Download ‘Does Gender Matter? Leena Luostarinen and the Art Debate Taking Place in Finnish Daily Newspapers in the 1980s and 1990s’, by Karita Kivikoski, as a PDF