Although recognised as one of the most emblematic artists of the Finnish genius at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Akseli Gallen-Kallela has never been the subject of a monographic exhibition in France. Yet he was closely linked with Paris: a pupil of the Académie Julian in the 1880s, he triumphed at the 1900 World Fair with the frescoes of the Finnish Pavillion with themes drawn from the mythical epicKalevala, he exhibited his work again in Paris in 1909 before embarking for Africa from which he returned with a flamboyant series of paintings and watercolours.
Realism, neo-romanticism, symbolism are intermingled in his work, which also include decorative arts. The exhibition accounts for this brilliant career, showing together pieces usually conserved in prestigious Finnish institutions and private collections that constitute manifestos of an art too often reduced to the expression of a national identity.
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