Annu Vertanen – Cellular Matrix
Annu Vertanen (born 1960) is one of the internationally most renowned Finnish printmakers. The Cellular Matrix exhibition showcases the artist's work spanning her long career, featuring not only prints but also watercolor paintings, videos, and sculptures.
Vertanen is recognized as a pioneer in Finnish printmaking, expanding the expression of printmaking and integrating it with other forms of art. Her preferred technique is woodcut, and she is also a master of traditional Japanese watercolor woodcut. Despite the extensive carving and printing hours required for large-scale works, Vertanen's works are characterized not only by vibrant color tones but also by an airiness and clarity brought about by deliberate simplicity.
Layering is a central aspect of the artist's process. Vertanen combines multiple thin printing papers or overlapping print layers on paper. Translucent interwoven colors and patterns create three-dimensionality and optical effects in her works.
Vertanen began her career as a painter. A turning point came in the late 1980s with a color woodcut course led by American artist Karen Kunc at the Jyväskylä Printmaking Workshop, influencing Vertanen to make woodcut her primary technique. The influence of painting is still evident in Vertanen's approach to working with color surfaces.
Annu Vertanen has taught at institutions such as the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, the University of Virginia and the University of Wyoming in the United States, the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, and the Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture. Since 2016, Vertanen has held the position of Finland's only professor of printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki. Vertanen's works are part of several domestic and international collections across Europe, as well as in the United States, Canada, and Japan. She has received numerous awards both nationally and internationally, including the State Award for Visual Arts in 2014.
The exhibition includes works from the Jyväskylä City Art Collection, as well as from the collections of the Lappeenranta Art Museum, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the Collection Kakkonen Finlandia, and the Imatra Art Museum. The exhibition is a collaboration with the Lappeenranta Art Museum and has received support from the National Board of Antiquities.
Annu Vertanen, Feather Thoughts, 2004, woodcut, photo Päivi Eronen