Anna Retulainen


Anna Retulainen (b. 1969 in Orimattila, Finland) is one of the most illustrious Finnish painters. She is an artist, acclaimed by both critics and the general public, who has made the process of painting visible in an enthralling way. Retulainen’s idiom, which moves between the figurative and the abstract, is at the same time both identifiable and innovative. She is known for her colourful expressionist works, which may give an initial impression of being direct and quickly executed. However, her brush strokes are not random, and the works are the result of a long and carefully thought-out process.

In her work, Retulainen starts with observations and memories, which she stores in her mind by drawing them. Thus she garners the fruit, vegetables and flowers in her paintings from her memories. In addition to the still lifes, places that are important to the artist – her home, studio and allotment garden – recur as subjects of her works. Constant change is an important factor for Retulainen both in gardening and in painting. She has also brought experiences from her travels and memories of her childhood into her paintings. Sometimes the subject has been taken from the history of art, but even then the painting can have a powerful personal element. On the other hand, the subjects only represent starting points for Retulainen’s work and its real content, which is painting itself. Her artistic creative method consists in an examination of colours and materials, an intimate association with the material essence of the work.

Anna Retulainen’s solo exhibition Silence in the Sara Hildén Art Museum has been compiled in cooperation with the artist. Silence plays a central role in Retulainen’s work. The notion of silence brings the viewer to stop before a work of art and look at it. The artist does not wish to explain her works because painting is the language by which she communicates. The new works in the exhibition enter into a dialogue with the artist’s earlier oeuvre. The exhibition includes key works from many of the artist’s major series, starting from 2003, when she found her own painterly idiom. The exhibition is organised according to thematic units: Still Life, The Garden, Encounters, Travels and Remembrance. As well as the paintings, there are drawings on display. The exhibition continues the presentation of works in the Sara Hildén Foundation Collection. There are also works by Retulainen in many other leading Finnish public art collections and in private collections.

Anna Retulainen’s works have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions from 1995 on. The artist’s previous museum exhibition was in the Amos Anderson Art Museum in 2007. Retulainen has collaborated with Helsinki Contemporary gallery since 2013. She has been a candidate for the Carnegie Art Award (in 1999 and 2014) and for the Ars Fennica Award (in 2005). She received the Finnish Art Society’s William Thuring Prize in 2005. In 2018, the Alfred Kordel Foundation deposited Retulainen’s double work Two Paths in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, the first works of contemporary art to be hung the palace. In the same year, Retulainen received an award from the Uusimaa fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Retulainen lives and works in Helsinki and Berlin.