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Released on 24 May 2024

Emma Helle: Parallel Paradise

Turku Art Museum 7 June – 15 September 2024

Join us for the press preview on Thursday, 6 June 2024 at 11 am at Turku Art Museum (Aurakatu 26, Turku). The artist will be present on the occasion.

Opening on Thursday,6 June at 5-7 pm. Welcome!

Parallel Paradise presents sculptor Emma Helle’s latest production and works from the past decade. This is her most extensive museum exhibition to date, featuring both ceramic and wooden sculptures and offering insight into the artist’s central themes and artistic methods. Helle is known for her lively works, which bring a breath of fresh air to traditional sculpture and its interpretations of gender. The playful references to art styles and myths, to sacred and secular imagery, highlight overlooked figures from art history and shape alternative narratives. They challenge us to consider whether everything is actually the way we assume it is.

Helle’s sculptures draw inspiration from Western pictorial and narrative traditions especially. The artist is interested in memory, and how images move from one age and meaning to another – sometimes being completely forgotten and then reappearing. Helle travels through the fascinating worlds found in the stories of ancient religions, folktales, classical mythology and Christianity, pausing, for example, beside early medieval church art or artworks from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, each known for their admiration of antiquity. In the depictions of the recurring visual motifs, something changes and certain elements repeat –  where do they come from and what do they tell us?

The feminine figures in wood and clay are both graceful and unrefined, active participants. They are often surrounded by flourishing vegetation, and sometimes melt into imaginative metamorphoses. The variation between shiny and rough surfaces, the colourful glaze, gilding, and partially painted surfaces accentuate the sculptures’ baroque motion and drama. Helle’s gaze moves across ornaments and decorative motifs, where the imagery reveals a diversity considered less important than masculine heroic themes. Before us, she shapes a parallel paradise – her own versions of familiar or forgotten motifs – opening up the great stories to new interpretations.

Emma Helle (b. 1979, Stockholm) lives and works in Helsinki. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts at Uniarts Helsinki in 2007, and has since actively showcased her artworks in Finland and abroad. Recently, her work has been exhibited at the Lahti Museum of Visual Arts Malva and at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. Helle’s artworks are included in several private and public collections, such as at the The Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki Art Museum, Sara Hildén Art Museum, Saastamoinen Foundation, Pro Artibus Foundation and Turku Art Museum.

The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency. The artist’s work is supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

For further information
curator Selina Kiiskinen
+358 40 6323 375

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