For Humans and Beetles: Secret of the Garden at Järvenpää Art Museum

The Järvenpää Art Museum in the city of Järvenpää, Finland welcomes the exhibition ‘For Humans and Beetles: secret of the garden‘ regarding enchanting gardens and the splendor of flowers, plants and trees, until 28th August 2022. The beloved paintings by artists of the golden era of Finnish art and the works of three contemporary artists invite the visitors to rest, refresh and enjoy themselves while also providing a view into parts of the garden that are kept more secret: what lies beneath the soil, insects, and the relationship between humans and nature. Humans protect, enjoy, and cultivate nature, but also destroy, change, and lose it.


Garden culture and self-sufficiency were important ideals in the 1900s, and gardening was embraced also within the Lake Tuusula artist community. The artist’s families cultivated food crops as well as ornamental plants in their gardens. Kitchen gardens were an essential food source and were used to grow various crops, such as peas, carrots, swedes, potatoes, cabbages, and spinach. A garden was thought to enhance one’s understanding of beauty. It also served as a place to spend time as well as a center for social gatherings. Members of the artist community used to exchange seeds and samplings of flowers and plants with each other. Gardening was also competitive, in a more or less playful manner: whose peonies and roses would be the first to bloom?


Artist Venny Soldan-Brofeldt (1863–1945) rose to world fame at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Floral themes did not emerge in Soldan-Brofeldt’s works until the war. In the 1940s, Soldan-Brofeldt became an enthusiastic gardener at the Kumpula allotment garden. During the war, she was able to sell her floral-themed paintings and sustain a stable income despite the difficult times. Her interest in floral paintings was accompanied by an interest in serial work and mastering the scale of the small painting canvas. Soldan-Brofeldt’s final work, a painting of a white flower, was sent to its commissioner on October 6th, 1945. Three days later, the artist passed away.


Pasi Rauhala (born 1978) is a media artist who specializes in interactivity and spatiality. Eero Was Here (2022), a commissioned work by artist Pasi Rauhala, reflects a location that is present in Eero Järnefelt’s Kukkivaa kesää (1918), a painting that is part of the Järvenpää Art Museum collection. The artwork displays Rauhala’s idea of what might have happened before the creation of Järnefelt’s painting – perhaps there was a garden party being held at Suviranta? – and what kinds of marks human life leaves on the landscape even if humans are nowhere to be seen. In the artwork, the artist is marked in the landscape as a red dot; a location. Even though the artwork imagines what life and the landscape might have been like 100 years ago, the artwork is not set in any specific time: in it, time and place are meaningless, even if the whole work is based on them.

Tamara Piilola (born 1977) studied at Turku Art Academy and Academy of Fine Arts. The large paintings of artist Tamara Piilola open gateways into nature, the forgotten and overgrown gardens, lush and powerful vegetation, and the element of water within gardens. Piilola paints imaginative landscapes that create a fantastic feeling of presence. The exhibition features Piilola’s works from earlier years in addition to her new works from 2021, most of which have not yet been on display in exhibitions around the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Artist Liisa Hilasvuori (born 1981) creates ceramic sculptures and installations. Hilasvuori graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 2010. ‘I have portrayed a scale that is seldom seen from the point of view of humans: seeds and insects. These things are present every day, very close to us, but most often they remain unseen by humans. A miniature world existing simultaneously alongside and within a larger world is a fascinating thought. I keep wondering how different it is to exist as an individual being in the world of insects compared to how it is in the world of humans. It is an alternative way of existing. The life cycle of a caterpillar includes periods of rest and metamorphoses, a variety of strange forms. An animal that looks a certain way can hardly be recognized as the same animal a week later. The shapes of seeds and caterpillars share a similar element of something expectant: both entail an idea of growth and transformation. Viewing a work of art could have something in common with discovering a small wonder of nature.”


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