Nuoret 2023 (Young Artists) is a gentle explosion of light and love

Unveiled on the 21st of April, Nuoret 2023 (Young Artists) features works from 36 independent artists or groups in seven galleries and art spaces in Helsinki. The collection of works is extremely charming, thought provoking and fresh while offering a distinct look into different materials, media and expression. Nuoret 2023 is a delicate collection that entrances with memories of the past, the concept of family – and light. 

The Nuoret 2023 exhibition features a handful of young, contemporary artists. With an emphasis on ‘young’, as the age limit of the exhibited artists has been drawn at a strict 35. A number which, by no means, seemed to limit the amount of applications. According to Emma Ainala, visual artist and chair of the jury who selected the works for the exhibition, the number of artists willing to exhibit reached a record figure of 658. Something which according to Ainala is, along with other things, an indication of the lack of spaces and galleries available for young artists to show their work in Helsinki.
The jury, which in addition to Ainala, included Jade Kallio, student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, photographer Heli Rekula, and Kunsthalle Helsinki’s Director Nina Toppila, decided on a delicious collection of works tackling themes such as identity, close relationships and the concept of family. The displayed works were selected through an open application process. What they all have in common is that they feature, even in these dystopian times, glimpses of light.

As the first rays of spring penetrate the windows of Kunsthalle Helsinki, one of Finland’s finest samples of 1920s neo-classicism, their gleam seems white and nearly overwhelming. Bouncing off the works of the 24 artists featured in the space, the presence of light almost becomes a show in itself. In the blinding sheen, Emilia Tanner’s piece Fractals dances through the room. Consisting of handmade holes on paper, the 8-meter Fractals features “hundreds of thousands” of small holes that act as a minimal gaze into the surrounding space. According to Tanner, while the tiny punctures are recurring, each stitch is also different. This then, according to the artist, makes the work seem unanimous while it actually remains full of mistakes. “This to me is interesting. The holes are empty space, nothing, yet they are an important and defining part that make the work. I am fascinated by the fine nuances in the sequence of holes and the patterns appearing on the paper.”

Fractals by Emilia Tanner.

While Tanner’s work features an abundance of bright splendor, Oskari Ruuska delivers Beach on Uranus, an installation built onsite, featuring a dominant orange glow. Huffing and puffing with steam, Beach on Uranus offers a look into lives lived, Eastern Helsinki architecture long since demolished and a karaoke culture – all with indications of a certain class and socioeconomic state. As the little karaoke screen placed on the floor blasts with lyrics from Anastacia’s Left Outside Alone, purple butterflies made from glass flutter around in the steamy neon glimmer. “I loved making the butterflies – they are wonderful, and a symbol for metamorphosis,” the artist says. The installation is intrinsically magical, and its familiar elements, picked from memories, seem to also be colored by memories. The vibe is sensuous, full of love and intimacy.

Oskari Ruuska’s work Beach on Uranus.

Haliz Yosef’s work Walking on eggshells, with you is a reflection on the communication between the artist and their mother. A process which, according to the artist “has been blocked for years due to her psychosis”. The piece features over 600 kilograms of sand and glitter – a base on which large ceramic urns have been placed gently. Molded with the assistance of Lina Herrmans, a student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, the pots or vases that have been placed on the shining sand offer an image of something having been broken. With organic forms that gleam in the morning glow, the materiality of the pieces seems tangible – everything remains raw, a bit ragged around the edges. In a similar manner, the soundscape created in collaboration with sound designer Frank Rizzo crackles in incomprehensible ways. When a connection is broken, one needs to lean in to hear, to really listen. As the sound vibrates, attaching onto the ceramic sides of the urns, the message is delicate yet unclear. According to Yosef, there was always a desire to create a connection, a fantasy of dialogue. And as the physical essence of sound, occurring through sound exciters, turns the object into vibrating speakers – the sound takes on a physical form. “Memory turns into an object,” Yosef says.

Walking on eggshells, with you by Haliz Yosef.

In a similar manner, the quiet and beautiful work The Family by Turku-based artist Nayab Ikram combines aspects of intimacy and family relations. Placed in a dark nook along the passage of Kunsthalle Helsinki, The Family features the artist herself engaged in an ancient hair-washing ritual with her mother. In the incredibly delicious setup with the artist’s father standing east of the artist and the sister to the west – Ikram explores the longing to become, yet again, a child in her mother’s arms and the need to be cared for. And this is where the artist finds herself once again in the land of in-betweens. What is the place of an individual in a family? What are its internal bonds, The Family asks, as it flushes the exhibition space with an abundance of pastel light. 

Nuoret 2023 (Young Artists) features today’s young contemporary artists, and will be held from 22 April to 4 June 2023. The exhibition will be displayed in seven different exhibition spaces: Kunsthalle Helsinki, Galleria G, Photographic Gallery Hippolyte, MUU Helsinki Contemporary Art Centre, Galleria Sculptor, tm•gallery and the Helsinki Art Museum, HAM. More details can be found here.