Finland Exhibits in Kenya, Launches Art App
By Iminza Keboge
Published November 14, 2017
Presented by the Embassy of Finland in Kenya in collaboration with Gallen-Kallela Museum to mark a centenary of Finnish independence, the Akseli Gallen-Kallela Returns to Kenya show at Nairobi National Museum is based on the work of Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931), one of Finland’s most renowned artists, who travelled to East-Africa with his family, in what is now Kenya, in 1909. The family lived on the outskirts of Nairobi, in current Mathare Valley, painting, travelling, and collecting both natural and ethnographic artefacts. Now, more than 118 years later, Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s works are to be exhibited for the first time in the country they were created in.
Gallen-Kallela is said to have painted a large number of compact, brightly coloured and expressive works during his sojourn in Kenya, a country in which he is said to have ‘rediscovered the joy of painting’ as illustrated by his words in a letter to Wenzel Hagelstam, a friend of his, in which he said, “This is where all the world’s artists should be! I am walking in a stupor, drunk on beauty!”
The exhibition will also be the launch pad for the the Gallen-Kallelan Museum’s Taideavain (Art-key) web application that will follow in the footsteps of the Gallen-Kallela family on a map of Kenya, and offer context on the exhibited works.
Both the exhibition and Taideavain/Art-key app will serve as a conversation starters, according to the organisers of the event that is scheduled to run through December 15, 2017.
Saying its “goal is to learn and supplement its knowledge of the family’s travels in Kenya and the artefacts they gathered there,” Gallen-Kallela Museum’s press release says the art app to be launched will “be a communal platform, through which the museum can learn more about the artefacts in their collection from the people from whose culture and history they belong to” besides helping improve access to historical and cultural documents.
As Gallen-Kallelan Museum expands its work with Kenyans on the Kenyan material in its collection, the work in Kenya will form a part of the wider Young Talents of Kisumu youth project that is supported by the city of Espoo that is supporting the Taideavain web app.