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Nanna Susi In the Moods

Salo Art Museum´s main exhibition in autumn 2018 features painter Nanna Susi (b. 1967). Well known for her large and colourful paintings filled with emotional content, Susi is one of the most successful contemporary artists in Finland.

The retrospective exhibition Nanna Susi In the Moods includes paintings from the beginning of the artist´s career in the 1990s to the current day. The exhibition has been produced in cooperation between Salo Art Museum and Jyväskylä Art Museum. It will be shown in Jyväskylä in spring 2019.

Graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1997, Nanna Susi became widely popular during the Young Artist of the Year 2000-exhibition, when she filled the walls of Tampere Art Museum with her large-scale, colourful paintings. Susi´s selection as The Young Artist of the Year was regarded as a symbol for the return of painting. Especially her paintings with strong colours gained a lot of interest. Nanna Susi´s second museum exhibition, Underneath the Eyes, was organised at Helsinki Art Museum in 2012.

Salo Art Museum´s exhibition is Nanna Susi´s third solo show at a museum, and her very first retrospective. Artwork for the exhibition has been borrowed from museums and organisations. However, most of the works have not been exhibited before, and they come directly from the artist herself.

Artist Nanna Susi has been busy painting for the past thirty years. She has organised dozens of solo shows in galleries both in Finland and abroad, and participated in group exhibitions in countries such as Finland, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, the USA, Ireland, France and Egypt. She has also painted an altarpiece for Rekola´s church of Saint Andreas, and two paintings for Meilahti Cancer Center called Clinic I and Clinic II.

Nanna Susi - a painter of emotions

The exhibition title "Nanna Susi In the Moods" refers to the strong emotional content of her paintings, their mood. In Finnish, ´moodi´ is also a musical term, ´a mode´, meaning a stable system in music. It can be, for instance, a musical scale, a melody or a pattern of rhythm, which the musician repeats from different heights, in different moods, in major or minor. The mood of Susi´s artwork is characterised by large scale, emotional content and rich colours. Susi´s artworks have been interpreted against the backdrop of different art movements, such as Neo-Expressionism and Colourism. People have also detected poetry and romantic undertones in her paintings. Nanna Susi has been compared to the strong female Expressionists of 1980s´ Finland: Marika Mäkelä, Marjatta Tapiola and Leena Luostarinen, who was her teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Nanna Susi lives and works in different moods and in different time frames. She continuously reconstructs herself and embarks on a new journey with each artwork. Nanna Susi´s moods materialise in series of artwork: they are like temporal and emotional clusters channelling her moods. Susi´s joyful play with colour sometimes turns into a sombre calmness, even gloom, and the rush of excitement to subtlety and stylish sensitivity.

Emotions are the motifs and energy of Nanna Susi´s paintings. For Susi, moderation is boring: she wants an abundance of everything. And so, her spectrum of emotions varies from bubbling joy to the depths of despair. Mysticism and concepts appear in Nanna Susi´s artwork as symbols, such as doors, gates or roads, through which the artist transports the viewer from one reality to another. The four elements, earth, fire, water and air, are the powerful forces that send Nanna Susi on her travels. Sometimes her subjects are stars, natural phenomena, storms and the wind, but also the mystical moments of a misty morning.

The travelling project Blue and Red

In 2015 Nanna Susi and the Chinese-born artist Canal Cheong Jagerroos, who is currently based in Finland, had an idea for a mutual project: coming from different cultural backgrounds, both artists would go on a mutual journey in order to experience each other´s world. The goal of the project was to deepen the artists´ understanding of each other´s cultures, do networking and create collaboration between countries. This is how Nanna Susi and Canal Cheong Jagerros decided to embark on a journey, which ended up transporting them through different cultures, values and emotions. The Blue and Red-project was designed from the very beginning to be a holistic experience, in which the artists would travel through each others´ home countries and collect local experiences and influences for later use.

You can see the influence of the journey in Nanna Susi´s choice of materials and technique. Her colour scheme is soft and oriental; delicate tones reflect their tonal opposites, resulting in an airy and light expression. Painting on silk is also a new technique for the artist. Alongside Nanna Susi´s exhibition, Canal Cheong Jagerroos is exhibiting work in her Floating Island-exhibition at Salo Art Museum´s Tower (29 September 2018 -13 January 2019).

Publication Nanna Susi In the Moods

A new publication Nanna Susi in the Moods will be published by Parus Venus alongside Susi´s exhibition. The publication is richly illustrated with artwork, and it includes PhD Altti Kuusamo´s thoughts on timelessness in Nanna Susi´s production. He also ponders on the question of time in a broader sense in his article "The overripe moment and fresh timelessness in Nanna Susi´s paintings". Art historian Heidi Grahn´s description of Nanna Susi as a painter relies greatly on the artist´s diaries. In the article "Nanna Susi In the Moods", the artist is strongly present through the quotations from her diary.