BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Galerie Forsblom – Helsinki, Finland

Bringing international contemporary art to the Finnish capital

Ai Weiwei, ’Colored Vases’, 2015
Ai Weiwei, ’Colored Vases’, 2015

Helsinki might not yet be a main player on the global art scene, however the Finnish capital is brimming with culture, a lively community, and international exchange. Although no significant art fairs take place here and very few commercial galleries call Helsinki their home, much has happened in regards to cultural services over the past ten years. Restaurants opened, young designers have set up shop, and the cultural industry has built a solid base for itself. This growing internationalization has had a huge impact on how the city's inhabitants make use of their space and how they consume culture. Which, in turn, has had a strong, positive impact on the art market and its local artists (even though one can't deny the fact that the Finnish market remains quite small). One thing the country has got going for it is its supportive government. In 2015 alone, the Finnish government gave over 40 million Euros for artists’ grants and subsidies – grants which were not quid pro quo based, but instead, the artists were free to do what they wish.

Installation view from Ai Weiwei’s exhibition "Exaggeration"
Installation view from Ai Weiwei’s exhibition "Exaggeration"

A key player in the contemporary art scene is Galerie Forsblom. Founded by Kaj Forsblom (a collector and along with his wife, Rafaela Seppälä, owner of the RKF Collection that's featured in the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors) in 1977, it is now run by Kaj and his son Frej. Back when it opened it was considered to be the first contemporary art space in Finland and is now widely recognized as one of the leading galleries in the Nordic countries. Located in an impressive old brick building, Galerie Forsblom presents between 15 to 20 exhibitions annually. The program showcases emerging talents, as well as established artists that are both Finnish and international. The gallery's director, Kiira Miesmaa, explains that they choose artists “that touch us, in one way or another”. Their artists are usually found doing something which could be seen as “new” or interesting, and the gallery aims to give the Finnish audience a chance to see artists that would not otherwise be normally shown in Finland, considering the merging of international and local artists the red line throughout their exhibition planning. After all, Kaj Forsblom has run the space for over 40 years and has cultivated a strong relationship with his artists – something the gallery founder and directors are very proud of, enabling them to continue to exhibit established artists in their native Finland.

(l–r) Ai Weiwei, ’Grapes’, 2015; ’Illumination’, 2009. Courtesy the artist
(l–r) Ai Weiwei, ’Grapes’, 2015; ’Illumination’, 2009. Courtesy the artist

Kiira Miesmaa foresees a generational shift happening in the “artistic positions of power”, with galleries and museums being steered by the younger generation and with new art followers entering the scene. The gallery wants to continue to foster Helsinki's art scene, help Finnish artists gain international momentum, and enrich the cityscape with its strong exhibitions. The 2016/2017 schedule will see solo shows by Hekki Marila, Chantal Joffe, Keith Sonnier, and Reima Nevalainen. Galerie Forsblom is currently showing Ai Weiwei's Exaggeration, which will continue to run until August 19th 2016.

by Liv Fleischhacker

Liv Fleischhacker is a freelance writer based in Berlin. Her favorite topics include art, design and food.

All images courtesy Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki

More Information on Galerie Forsblom

Galleries (39)

Gianni Manhattan - Vienna, Austria

Young, International and Critically Astute

Misako & Rosen — Tokyo, Japan

Redefining the Conversation Around Aesthetics

Tiwani Contemporary – London, Great Britain

The London Gallery Promoting African Self-definition

Frutta Gallery — Rome, Italy

Understanding Tradition Without Hesitating to Break It

Contemporary Fine Arts – Berlin, Germany

From West to East and Back Again: a Berlin Institution That’s Made Its Mark

Bo Bjerggaard – Copenhagen, Denmark

Showcasing Figurative Painting With a Side of Communal Spirit

Pierre-Yves Caër Gallery – Paris, France

The Parisian gallery creating a home for Japanese artists in the European art market.

Blindspot Gallery — Hong Kong, China

Throwing a Spotlight on Local Artists

Vane – Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain

The Not-for-profit Space Offering Context And Critique In Newcastle

H’art Gallery — Bucharest, Romania

One of Bucharest’s Oldest Private-Run Galleries

LambdaLambda Lambda – Pristina, Kosovo

Mastering the Language in the Kosovan Capital

Deák Erika Galéria – Budapest, Hungary

Beyond Budapest’s Baths

The Breeder Gallery – Athens, Greece

Breeding New Forms in Athens

Tim Van Laere Gallery – Antwerp, Belgium

An autonomous gallery representing both upcoming and well-established artists

Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler – Berlin, Germany

One of the most cutting-edge galleries in Berlin

Galerie Fons Welters – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A Doorway to Amsterdam’s Contemporary Art

Bosse & Baum – London, United Kingdom

Ambitious perspectives in Peckham

TM51 – Oslo, Norway

Three Galleries in One – Oslo’s Most Accessible Space

mfc-michèle didier – Paris, France

A Space that Reflects the Artistic Discipline

V1 Gallery – Copenhagen, Denmark

Challenging the Boundaries of Art

Upstream Gallery – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tackling the Shift Between the Analog and Digital in a Post Internet World

The Journal Gallery – New York, USA

Saving New York from Becoming a Sale-Focused Gallery Wasteland

Peres Projects – Berlin, Germany

Bridging the Gap Between Los Angeles and Berlin

Galeria OMR – Mexico City

Mexico City’s advocate for modern artistic tendencies and international contemporary art

LOYAL – Stockholm, Sweden

A Gallery that Pushes the Dialogue Around Young and International Art in Sweden’s Capital

Chimera-Project — Budapest, Hungary

Post-contemporary interest in aesthetics while eagerly re-constructing and defining traditions

La New Gallery — Madrid, Spain

Celebrating contemporary art in all its multi-faceted forms

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery – Sydney, Australia

Her uncanny ability to recognize unique Pacific Rim talent

Take Ninagawa Gallery – Tokyo, Japan

Promoting emerging Japanese artists within a cross-generational, international framework

RaebervonStenglin – Zurich, Switzerland

It is much more about concepts, long conversations and long-term commitment

Galerie Emanuel Layr – Vienna, Austria

Finding the right chord among the various artists

Platform China – Beijing/Hongkong, China

This shows how much prejudgment there still is

Fluxia – Milan, Italy

Strive to discover new approaches in contemporary art

Gaudel de Stampa – Paris, France

“Discreet” seems to be the perfect adjective

NON – Istanbul, Turkey

The dawn of an era of collaboration

Vermelho – São Paulo, Brazil

There were no galleries open to a new generation of artists working in a nontraditional way

Eleven Rivington – New York, USA

Newfound talent and rediscovers international artists for a new audience

Ibid. – London, Great Britain

Rather than listing names