Juhani Tuominen | Professor of Fine Art

My primary interests in terms of artistic practices and research perspectives are:


  • The fruitful interaction between different cultural influences in my work, particularly between the visual culture of the Middle East and Western Modernism.
  • The relationship between the aesthetics of iconoclasm and representational, narrational art.
  • The construction of images and painting in general.

I studied visual art at the Academy of Fine Arts (Finland) in the 1970s. My interest in visual art is strongly connected to the many new directions in Western visual art emerging in the 1950s-60s. My struggle between abstract constructivism and figurative representation did not reach any resolution during the 1970s, and I turned from abstract art to descriptive realism.

Being born in Oulu and moving back after finishing my studies, and now living in Rovaniemi, I recognise the significance of the northern influence on my thinking. Perceiving this in my art, however, is not as straightforward, as it is not so prominent, in my opinion.

The first decisive stage in the reshaping of my identity as an artist was in the 1970-80s when, at the time that my phase as the provincial Artist laureate was ending and especially had ended, I was teaching in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oulu. That is when my interest in the interaction between two-dimensional space in painting and concrete three-dimensional space was strengthened.

1985 was a significant year for me as a visual artist. I was on my way to Villa Lante in Rome to work on my theme at the time for a couple months. Coincidentally tempted, I approached Rome via the east and Istanbul. When my Western Modernist artistic sensibilities encountered the past and present of the East, a new perspective opened up for me, also on everything I had done up until that time. I became interested in the burial culture of the Ottoman period, not in a simply romantic, visual way, but as a metaphor for art as occupying the space between the real and the apparent. Working and living in Istanbul in the late 1980s worked to deepen this perpective. Working for shorter periods of varying lengths in the same place since then and up to now has continued my immersion in this perspective.

This has resulted in my interest in Osmanic, Persian and other Middle Eastern peoples as well as the enduring presence and reflection of Byzantine and other earlier Anatolian cultures in contemporary visual culture and especially in what is known as modern art. By modern art I refer specifically to the type of late Modernism which I for my own part call romantic modernism, and not to what is generally included in the concept of contemporary art.

In my art work, I attempt to convey my own appropriation and adaptation of the Modernist tradition. I try to illustrate the potential of the metaphor of burial to transmit an integrated emotional and intellectual picture of reality, its fragility and reliability.

Juhani Tuominen

Professor of Fine Art
+358 (0)40 592 7218 | Ext. 2351