Osmo Rauhala: Remember to forget everything

Visual artist Osmo Rauhala’s (born 1957) extensive solo exhibition in Aboa Vetus Ars Nova provides an overview of the artist’s work of the 2010s.

The exhibition brings together works created during Osmo Rauhala’s mid-career as an artist. The works on view include large paintings and video works. The exhibition has borrowed works from 17 private collections and five public art collections. Rauhala’s works from the 2010s have previously been exhibited in Finland by the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Didrichsen Art Museum, for example.

For Osmo Rauhala, the aim of creating images is ambitious: he seeks to understand the complex world through them. His works are composed of layers and resemble archaeological excavations in this respect. They contain several levels of sign systems and references to various disciplines: mathematics, biology and philosophy. The artist invites you to look at his works of art in the same way as people have looked at pictures for centuries, as we have an innate ability to understand pictures. In addition to a visual experience, the paintings offer analytical vantage points to many phenomena in the world.

The themes of the works on the first exhibition floor include DNA and evolution. The genetic information carried by DNA is a prerequisite of all life and a common building block. Human evolution has led to the development of various sign systems, such as language, natural sciences and art. Rauhala has concerns about whether we are able to understand reality through these systems. 

In Finland, Rauhala is particularly known for his deer themes which are easy for people to identify with. In his work of the 2010s, Rauhala’s motifs dive into the undersea world and take a plunge deeper into the unknown. The rays and giant squids appearing in the paintings on the second exhibition floor raise the question of the levels of consciousness of different species. Studying self-awareness makes one think about the place of human beings in the world.

In Osmo Rauhala’s life, art and nature are inextricably intertwined. His roots are deep in the land: ever since his youth, he has run his family farm in Siuro, Nokia. He became familiar with organic farming in the United States in the late 1980s, and he has persistently promoted this agricultural system ever since. Rauhala is actively involved in the public debate on environmental issues.

Rauhala’s path as a visual artist is exceptional: in addition to an extensive artistic oeuvre, he holds three academic degrees and he has a profound understanding of environmental sciences and philosophy. Rauhala is an early pioneer of the international movement in Finnish contemporary art. He held his first solo exhibition in New York in 1989. Since the 1980s, Rauhala has worked part of the year in New York. He has had 60 solo exhibitions and has participated in more than a hundred group exhibitions across the world.

Rauhala’s major achievements in Finland include the Young Artist of the Year Award (1992), the Suomi-palkinto (Finland Award, 2009), the Church Cultural Award (2009) and the Pro Finlandia Medal (2017). In Finland, his best-known artistic works include the panel paintings of St Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää, Sastamala (2009)


+358 20 718 1640
Event place external: 
Aboa Vetus Ars Nova
Event address: 
Itäinen Rantakatu 4