Artist Tapani Rantala and Rector Mauri Ylä-Kotola in front of the painting "Tietäjien aika". Photo: Marko Junttila.

The University of Lapland received Tapani Rantala's painting Tietäjien aika


Sava-Group, Lapin Kansa, and Santa's Hotels endowed our university with Tapio Rantala's painting Tietäjien aika (The Age of Academics and Wise Men).

The painting, overlooking the main lobby, spans an area of 4.9 by 2.5 meters. According to the artist, the work combines the present, past, and mythology of Lapland and our university.

"In ancient Finnish and Sámi mythology, spiritual structure was mediated by witches and shamans. Today, spiritual structure lies in the university and modern science. In fact, the work depicts their convergence," Rantala notes.

At the front of the painting, a number of modern academics surround the stream of knowledge: Professors of the university and people who have contributed to its success over the decades. The underlying landscape, nature, fauna, and mythological elements of Lapland inform and remind us about the regional history and folklore and about the preservation and cleanness of Lapland's nature.

Rector Mauri Ylä-Kotola describes the work as a transcendental system of organisms and their environment.

"The work manifests transcendentality in that it depicts both present and departed people who have contributed to the research and development of the university across the ages. These people together with the environment and its elements constitute a system of organisms and their environment: They relate to the environment and the environment relates to the University of Lapland through them. Thus, the work represents interaction between the region and people therein," Ylä-Kotola notes.

In Ylä-Kotola's view, Tietäjien aika is to some extent connected to the Italian Renaissance artist Rafael's fresco The School of Athens that hosts a number of contemporary Greek philosophers but leaves the viewer uncertain as to the identity of some of its characters.

"The School of Athens depicts the contemporary academics. Also Tietäjien aika makes the viewer aware that the people in the painting are looking at us as spectators, we are looking at them, and the characters are relating to one another. In the words of Altti Kuusamo, 'Every era and region creates its own School of Athens. Now, the knowledge of causes (causarum cognitio) is northern by nature.' The work in fact incorporates references to the way in which the Arctic and the North form a causal substratum for many phenomena," Ylä-Kotola continues.

According to Tapani Rantala, he is proud of this commission and content with the result.

"I am also very pleased with the fact that the work found its place in the main lobby of the university, a building deemed so important to Lapland," Rantala says.

Tapani Rantala

Tapani Rantala, born in Pessalompolo, Ylitornio, Finland, is widely known for his paintings and portraits inspired by Lapland. He studied in the Repin Institute in 1973–1975. The artist currently works in Rovaniemi and his artworks have been on display in numerous exhibitions in Finland and abroad. Many public and private collections also include items made by Rantala.

Information on the painting

Tapani Rantala: Tietäjien aika (The Age of Academics and Wise Men), oil, 4.92 by 2.52 meters.

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