If you visit Turku and become hungry of art after the closing of galleries and museums, then turn right towards Jarrumiehenkatu 3, near the main railway station. The likeable Galleria Jänis is the only window gallery in Turku that offers art for viewing regardless of the time of day.

Galleria Jänis is an artist-driven non-profit window gallery showing art of all disciplines. It is founded after the desire to see more art in public realm. Jänis wants to bring the art into everyday life and offer an alternative to the city´s commercial mill. The gallery is full of surprises, coincidences, questions, quirks, and puckering every day of the week around the clock. Jänis presents art in the whole richness. So far, the gallery has featured installations, photographs, paintings, sculptures, textiles, arts and crafts, sound works and videos. And who can be found behind this mysterious gallery window? I was able to interview artists Maja Breife and Hans-Peter Schütt.

Artists Maja Breife and Hans-Peter Schütt.

1. Where did you get the idea to set up a window gallery?

We got this local temporarily at first when the person renting it was leaving for a longer stay abroad. We, that is Maja Breife and Hans-Peter, had just moved to Turku and needed a working studio. The local have a big storefront towards the street and we figured it could quite easily be turned into an art gallery. An exhibition space that would bring art close to people. Since you see the exhibition straight from the street we do not only reach the regular gallery visitors but anyone passing by and we are always open!

2. Where did the gallery get its name?

It took a while for us to find a name, in the end we found this map of Turku town from 1837 where each block had been named and this block were the local was situated was called Haren / Jänis (english Hare) and that felt like a good name.

3. When was the gallery established? Is there an association in the background, for example?

The first exhibition took place in December 2011 and the operative started as a proper gallery just before new year 2012 and we count that it started in 2012. After some years our flock grew as Simo Ruotsalainen joined us to be the third member of the Jänis family. We are all artists and run the gallery from a non profit base. We are not an association.

4. What kind are your exhibition habits?

The exhibitions last four weeks and usually we have 13 exhibition in a year. We have open calls for exhibitions twice a year, in autumn and spring. The amount of applicants varies. The exhibition fee is 120 €. For us it is important that the art we exhibit appeals to us visually as well as conceptually. We also want to show the versatility of art and we actively try to combine a good set of exhibitions when we plan our exhibition calander. It is nice when the exhibitions really use the whole window space in an inventive way. The artist “CV” is not so important for us, we have been exhibiting all from new beginners to well established artists. Galleria Jänis wants to be open, curious and show a spectrum of good art to the people all around the clock.

5. What is the future of the gallery?

We probably continue pretty much the same way. The exhibitions we show build up what the gallery is. We are also keen to cooperate with other galleries. This spring we have an exchange exhibition from Berlin and we have a few before; to Chicago and to Tampere. Maybe we could take part of art fairs in Finland as well as abroad and continue growing our operation in that way.

Philosphers and rabbits

Galleria Jänis is currently exhibiting Kirsi Kuusisto’s in Linnanpuisto 28.1.-23.2.2018.

“Castles have fascinated me since childhood and visits to castles have raised history and stories into life. I have visited all the Finnish castles, ruins and walls in the woods. Of course there is still a mysterious castle that has yet to be discovered, and I am looking forward to see it. A couple of years ago, I started the project of illustrating Finnish castles with my own techniques, drypoint, carborundum, paper lithography and color rolling. My prints are unique or varied series. Birds and rabbits are very often subjects of my art, too. Birds are symbols of freedom and infinity and rabbits are symbols of life, wit and joy.” (Kirsi Kuusisto)

Ceramics rabbits Platon and Socrates are in the gallery window in an attacking position against each other. According to stories, Plato admired so much of his teacher Socrates that he put his own ideas entirely in this name. Socrates, on the other hand, did not care about the conventional norms, and behaved intentionally annoyingly to excite people with sharpness. Plato, like Socrates, thought that when a person pursues wisdom with great passion, it becomes a soul purifier that directs man from nightly darkness to light. Have Plato and Socrates received a rabbit's character regarding the enlightenment and intelligent dialogue brought about by wisdom?

The two-headed rabbit in the foreground has been named the Philosophical dilemma. The heads look serious in different directions, pondering the dilemma that they have in front of them. There are at least two possible answers to the dilemma. For example, a logical
dilemma is usually a problem that solution companies lead to logical contradictions. It is thus a kind of philosophical deadlock (aporia). Ethical dilemma is a difficult moral decision-making. What is the starting point for the dilemma of a dual head rabbit? We can just try to guess.

This reflection guides the question, though it may also be a dilemma: What determines the name of the art work and what significance does it have for the artist and the public?

To be named or not to be

When the art work is untitled, it leaves the viewer greater power to interpret freely, the viewer must look at the picture exclusively without verbal meaning or hint, while naming gives at least the meaning of the reference, framework in which the work can be classified. The artist may well designate his/her work or give it only for the hint. Without the knowledge of the name, we may give the work meaning that the name may annul or on the other hand the name may give the work meaning that we would not have felt without the name.

The viewer of the work always has the freedom to give meaning to work in his own way. The meaning that he gives to the work is formed
sum of many things. The artist cannot describe a particular thing or name it to determine how the work is interpreted. Interpretation is always influenced by the viewer´s own experience world, which may not be the same as the artist’s. “Untitled” name is often justified by the fact that the viewer does not want to be guided in any direction, but the artist wants to leave the viewer free to interpret the image. Naming can be however part of the art process, it can be a great part of it, as the name affects how the work looks. One important thing, of course, is whether the viewer wants to understand the work in a way that the naming would affect.

The name suggests a certain relationship to the image and its interpretation.The names of works of art are created by some artists even before the work. The word or phrase can give the inspiration from which the work is born. However, in many, the name comes to mind at the beginning of the process and even more after the completion of the work.

Mirja-Riitta / Kunstportal


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