Juho Karjalainen Printmaker
”The subject of my artwork deals with our trek through time as people, the hard, sometimes merciful daily life. I can only describe what I feel… I don’t believe in touristic vacations, going to the sea or dramatically withdrawing into seclusion. Just like Vilho Lampi, I believe – there are berries to be picked on the bank of my own creek.”
Printmaker Juho Karjalainen developed his own etching technique which is reminiscent of eastern ink drawings or the surface value of water colours. The objective being a light and airy effect. The opposites of art are also of great interest to Karjalainen: substance and immaterial, spiritual and material. Karjalainen is the master of simplicity, all that is left is a person, space, the sound of silence – and the feeling of being.
The main thematic of Juho Karjalainen’s art is the classical human body. He is particularly well known for his large scale prints of the male form. He shifted from lyrical images of women to the epic, rougher male subjects in 1993.
Juho Karjalainen: Great Form, 2003, etching, 77x137 cm, photo Martti Kapanen
”The figure, a human, sometimes an animal, were my main subjects until the mid 1980’s. I then became interested in clouds until a time between the 80’s and 90’s when I went back to using the figure. The cloud period continued on again later after 2000, in its own kind of minimalism. The male subjects accidentally returned in the beginning of the 90’s. I was and still am bothered about the opinion that female nudes are ok, for both male and female viewers, but that nude male subjects are somehow partly inappropriate. In the 90’s, an unintentional narrative began to emerge in my images and for its presentation, I think the man works better.”
The large scale prints of men evolved in parallel to life, becoming deeper with life experience and naturally more symbolic. Our seamless adaptation to nature can be seen in Karjalainen’s work but his work also expresses solitude. Another important theme is often seen in his work: the boat, which comes from his childhood in the lakescapes of the Kainuu region.
”The open back waters of Lake Oulu have provided moments of wonder but also scary experiences from my childhood. In the 50’s the lake was useful for me: winter trails over the ice and trips to the store by boat during the summer. My romantic interest in lakes came later when I began to wander around on my own to islands and along the shore.”
This winter, the subject of Karjalainen’s most recent work returned to animal themes. After cats and dogs, a new animal appeared: the wolf.
Juho Karjalainen: Scenters, 2017, etching, 72x125 cm, photo Martti Kapanen
This exhibition along with the accompanying catalogue were made in collaboration with the Lappeenranta Art Museum. This is a touring exhibition. After Jyväskylä, the exhibition travels to the Kajaani Art Museum for the summer and on to the Lappeenranta Art Museum in the fall.
The exhibition also shows a 10-minute video of Juho Karjalainen made by the Jyväskylä Art Museum.
Exhibition catalogue: Juho Karjalainen Printmaker
88 pages, colour illustration, text in Finnish and in Eglish, is on sale at the Jyväskylä Art Museum for 28 €
ISBN 978-952-5847-36-9, Jyväskylä Art Museum Publications 6 ISSN 1799-6929
Article in the catalogue
Heikki Malme: A Man in the Spotlight
The artist’s website: