One lovely Sunday afternoon we decided to go for a guided tour (several times per week, free with the ticket or Museokortti) to visit Tamminiemi, a villa with a great importance for Finland’s political and governmental life.
Let me quote the official website: “Tamminiemi Villa is located in Meilahti adjacent to Seurasaari museum island on a beautiful park estate which used to be President Urho Kekkonen’s official residence during his period in office between 1956 and 1981. In those days it was known as the centre of Finland’s political and governmental life. Tamminiemi is furnished the way it was in Kekkonen’s time.”
I don’t really know why I was not taking pictures – probably because I was enjoying the tour that much and was trying to show some respect to the guide. But it was great. Think Kekkonen: masculine, needing to control everything (from his weight and his time schedule to international politics), physically fit, bold (and bald). Add some 1970s spirit and colours (the canary yellow kitchen cabinets!), plus a collection of art books and presents from people of power. And last but not least, take all that and break in all those stories and details of Kekkonen’s personal as well as political life.
I swear I could smell cigar smoke, fish and Russian soap there.
Seriously, do make extra efforts to make it to the guided tour – in whatever language you prefer. You won’t regret. And if you have extra money to spend (around 3,500 €) I would recommend to rent the sauna (yes, that sauna).
From Tamminiemi we wanted to proceed to Villa Gyllenberg. The private home of the wealthy Gyllenberg family and their art collection (and donations to the collection) is open only two days per week; the day we visited was supposed to be one of them but it also was the day the new exhibition was installed. The exhibition is now open, so expect a report soon!
So we walked about 300m to Didrichsen Art Museum and visited the exhibition on Soviet Art. The exhibition includes several dozen works from years 1920-95 from Mikhail Arefyev’s private collection.
First, I appreciate the collector story: Arefyev is a dentist who travelled around Russia and bought art directly from the painters, not via galleries or auction houses.
Most importantly, the exhibition was pretty awesome. Being from a post-com country I have a very fiery relationship to social realism and soviet architecture – it appals and attracts me at the same time, yet in this case it was fascinating to reveal the new face of social realism.
It was really interesting to explore this new face of social realism! Yes, you can taste the propaganda from the paintings: portraits of working people, lot of rural motives, stories of the everyman. But particularly during Stalin era the regime left some space for artist’s individuality and certain “easiness” as well: it is not all about work, struggle and fight, there is also an exciting human side of the coin of socialist life.
And allowed a lot of space for artistic avant-garde.
K. Vyalov: Construction of a tramline