I made my way today to The Hague in order to see the retrospective of my favourite Finnish artist, Helene Schjerfbeck. Apparently the exhibition at Gemeente Museum is the biggest ever outside Scandinavia. I was expecting seeing the National Gallery collection but they had managed to compile works from a number of collections which offered new experiences even for a Finn.
Schjerfbeck is extraordinary just in the way that I have always loved in Finns. She is subtle, clear, modest and peaceful. Her works - especially the self-portraits - show an introvert approach to the world around her. In her paintings the background often disappears which allows the person to stand out in the full. Schjerfbeck stands the test of time. It is fascinating that in the beginning of 20th century her way of capturing ordinary women was perceived as radical and unappreciated. Now she is one of the few Finnish artists that actually is world class.
As my Italian friend pointed out in the exhibition:"You know, just think of it. A person isolated, introvert, not having children would be often seen as more a baggage than a contributor to the progress of our society. And this person who was seen as asocial has left behind this magnificent contribution to the society."
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