XXVII Mänttä Art Festival from 11 June to 31 August 2023

Featured Artists 2023

Featured artists 2023

This year, the curators Minna Suoniemi and Petri Ala-Maunus have invited many young artists. – Most of our artists are showing in the Art Festival for the first time, the curators are happy to announce. In this summer’s exhibition, 36 artists or artist groups were invited, for a total of 44 participants.

2023 artists

Emma Ainala

Emma Ainala graduated from the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts, in 2013. She is known for her intricate, detailed works that explore mythologies and a variety of spaces, both physical and digital – some even imagined. The human body, with its ambivalent gestures and expressions, is at the center of her work; being the object of gaze and objectification are recurring themes.

Ainala has held solo and group exhibitions in establishments that include the Hyvinkää Art Museum, Jyväskylä Art Museum, Mikkeli Art Museum and Finlandsinstitutets galleri Stockholm. She has also participated in the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition, Copenhagen in spring 2018. Her works figure in numerous public collections, such as the Niemistö Collection and the Saastamoinen Foundation.

Pasi Autio & Saku Koistinen

Pasi Autio is a Helsinki-based media artist whose works have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions since 2000. In his work, Pasi Autio often deals with loneliness, detachment, transience and death. The underlying concepts crystallise in a poetic way. He balances clarity and complexity, whereby things that seem obvious, ultimately reveal their true, complex nature. He is interested in an experience of reality, which combines realism, the inner world of the mind and imagination. Autio explores his subjects using moving images, sound and photography. His work often consists of photographic video footage and a carefully considered soundscape.

Saku Koistinen is a dancer and a choreographer who has produced his own choreographies since 2010 along with performing and touring with Teac Damsan (Michael Keegan-Dolan) and the Tero Saarinen Company.

Jesse Avdeikov

Jesse Avdeikov is a visual artist working in the mediums of painting, embroidery, writing and installation. Avdeikov's latest works are so-called thread paintings, in which he applies his abilities as a painter in embroidery. His work stems from an autobiographical place and stories are important to him. Avdeikov's art addresses themes such as friendship, different lifestyles, the importance of enjoyment, loneliness as well as birth and death. He is inspired by YouTube-videos, the classic art of painting, dogs, feelings and absurd aspects of life.

Risto-Pekka Blom

Risto-Pekka Blom works at the intersection of single channel video art and traditional cinematographic film. He often employs his own personal lyrics and the voice of everyday poetry as tools in the creation of his narratives. Blom’s work has been screened and awarded in festivals, galleries and museums in over 20 different countries.

Exclusion and social justice are reoccurring themes in his work, along with the pressure put on individuals that dictate how life should be lived. Human rights and the abuse of nature are also critically considered in his work. Without forgetting a healthy dose of dry, laconic humour.

Jan Eerala, Laura Naukkarinen & Ulla Taipale + Chorus Sinensis collaborative

In 2019–2022, composer Laura Naukkarinen aka Lau Nau, video-photographer Jan Erala and curator Ulla Taipale, together with a larger work group, created an audiovisual choral work called Chorus Sinensis, dedicated to the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis). This work poses the question: Is the cormorant worthy of a song?

The result of the collaboration was first presented as an exhibition at the Pori Art Museum in the summer 2022. At the Mänttä Art Festival we will show a video piece, in which the Poseidon Choir performs on the outer archipelago of the Baltic Sea, within the territories of the cormorant and other seabirds, after their autumn migration.

Mariam Falaileh

Mariam Falaileh is a Helsinki-based visual artist who works in ceramics, illustration and installation. In her work, she explores the interaction between the unconscious mind and extrasensory reality, as well as the relationship between humans and nature. Her imagery contains references to mysticism, psychedelia, and the spirit world.

Seppo Fränti

Seppo Fränti is an artist and art collector, born in Nurmo and based in Helsinki. He graduated from the University of the Arts in General Studies. Although as an artist, Fränti is a talented draughtsman whose use of line is delicate and expressive, for twenty years, he worked first and foremost at the Lastenlinna hospital for children and youth, with psychiatric patients. As a collector he followed his own taste - for Fränti art is love, not an investment. He has collected art for over forty years with a particular interest in work by young and recently graduated artists.

Fränti has been an active member of the contemporary art scene. In 2017 he donated his extensive personal collection to the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Also in 2017 the Kiasma ystävät ry granted him the Vuoden nykytaiteen ystävä (Contemporary Art Friend of the Year) award.

Terhi Heino

Terhi Heino graduated from the Department of Sculpture at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2001, where she also studied architecture. She uses natural materials, organic waste and biodegradable materials, such as fish fins and used tea bags out of which she creates sculptures, collages and larger abstract installations that comment on the transience and fragility of the individual and the environment.

Heino’s work can be found in the State Art Deposit Collection as well as in the Oulu Art Museum, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Wihuri Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma as well as in Kiasma’s Seppo Fränti Foundation collections. She has received the Raimo Utriainen Foundation Art Award and the William Thuring Prize.

Venla Helenius

Venla Helenius is a visual artist from Helsinki who works with moving image and installation. Helenius writes the scripts, films, directs, designs the costumes and edits her own work. Her small work team usually includes only performers and sound artists. Helenius completed Master’s degrees from both the Aalto University (2018) and the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts (2022). Over the past few years her work has been shown in places and events such as the Pori Biennial (2022), galleria Ars Libera (2022), Tampere Film Festival (2022), RAMA - Residências Artística (2022), Ars Häme (2021), VAFT (2019), the Young Artists 2019 exhibition (2019),and the Titanik gallery (2019). Alongside her artistic work, Helenius works as a freelance photographer for performance arts.

Jenni Hiltunen

Jenni Hiltunen lives and works in Helsinki. She graduated from the Art Academy of the Turku University of Applied Sciences in 2004 and the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2007. Hiltunen works with figurative drawing and sculpture. For Hiltunen, her artistic process is a means to think and remember, by which she deals with the emergence of subjective experiences, self-portraiture, and narratives of femininity and girlhood.

In Hiltunen’s paintings and sculptures, a melancholic atmosphere combines with bright colours and a strong material sense. Jenni Hiltunen’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the Tampere Art Museum and the Matti Koivurinta Foundation collections.

Piia Hiltunen

In her work, Piia Hiltunen considers her personal experiences and the relationship between people and nature. Art history, strange plants and insects, dreams along with popular culture are often at the starting point of her work. Hiltunen works with the traditional materials of sculpture along with metal, ceramics and glass. She enjoys the surprises that emerge out of the working process and these unforeseeable elements play an important role in the final outcome of her work.

Piia Hiltunen graduated from the Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2022. In the fall of 2023 she began continued education at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts.

Hinni Huttunen

Hinni Huttunen is a visual artist who works with video and photography. Her works are about sweet and heavy topics, such as: love, darkness, relationships, imaginary pets, ghosts, lust, hometowns, fatness, bloody tears and spit, loneliness, never-ending embarrassing emotions and exaggeration.

Huttunen graduated as a Bachelor of Culture and Arts from Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2014 and as a Master of Fine Art from Kungl. Konsthögskolan in Stockholm in 2018.

Hanna Hyy

Hanna Hyy lives and works in Raasepori. She is curious about expanding the traditional forms of painting with a more collage-like technique. She works almost exclusively by painting directly from still lifes.

Recently, Hyy has employed toys or interesting toy-sized objects as her models. The innocence of toys and in contrast, their use in popular culture as agents of horror are examples of how they are loaded with powerful overtones. Hyy graduated from the Department of Painting at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2019. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Finland and internationally. For example, in 2022 she held a solo exhibition at the TM gallery and participated in the Young Artists 2023 exhibition at the Kunsthalle Helsinki.

Hanna Kanto

Hanna Kanto is a visual artist from Tornio, who now lives and works in Helsinki. She completed her master’s degree at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2022. Kanto lived and worked for an extended time in different areas of Lapland and North Bothnia, and her work deals with themes of the North.

Kanto primarily paints on canvas, but has expanded her practice into the domain of sculpture, presenting three dimensional ceramic elements along side her paintings. She has held numerous solo and group exhibitions in Finland and internationally. Her work figures in the State Art Deposit Collections of both Finland and Sweden as well as in other significant museum collections in Finland and Sweden.

Veera Kulju

Veera Kulju is a sculptor from Helsinki who specialises in ceramics and weaving. In 2017–2018 she worked as a guest artist at the Arabia Art Department. Along with clay, this multidisciplinary artist uses different materials and techniques from textiles to photography and video art. Kulju is interested in themes such as identity and the various dimension of human existence.

In Finland, Kulju is represented by Galleria Halmetoja and in the United States, by Hostler Burrows. Her work has been shown in exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Kulju’s art has been acquired by the Finnish State Art Deposit Collection and the Swedish National Museum collections among others.

Raakel Kuukka

To quote photographer Raakel Kuukka (b. 1955, d. 2022): ”Maybe I became a photographer because I was aware of the significance of the past. I was also quick to feel home sick.” Raakel Kuukka was one of Finland’s groundbreaking photographers. She completed her MFA in Photography at the University of Applied Arts in 1988 and along side her artistic production, worked as a teacher, a curator and in other positions of trust. Kuukka’s work deals with her family history and community as well as with questions related to cultural encounters in a globalising world. Kuukka’s work has been shown extensively in both solo and group exhibitions including biennials in Finland and internationally. She was awarded the Finnish State Award for Photography in 2013.

Antti Kytömäki

Antti Kytömäki is a Helsinki-based multidisciplinary visual artist and musician. He is known for his spatial sculptures and installations which combine movement and sound with industrial materials. Kytömäki studied at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts and his works are included in several collections in Finland and abroad.

J.P Köykkä, Peetu Liesinen & Kim Somervuori

J.P Köykkä is a painter who lives and works in Kyrönlahti. He graduated from the Fine Art Programme at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2015. In his paintings, shades and forms create rhythmic melodies, bending into mechanical compositions that flow between the abstract and the figurative. The installation of his paintings plays an essential role in the presentation. Sometimes the paintings spread out into the space, creating an atmosphere and spatial experience. Moving to the countryside and working there has brought hidden references from the history of Finnish art, into Köykkä's paintings. This creates an interesting contrast for the work of an artist with a background in graffiti, to also reference the tradition of still life painting. The artist's work leaves room for the viewer's interpretation and adventure in their own memories and mental landscapes. Artwork by Köykkä is included in collections such as the Finnish State Art Deposit, the National Gallery (FI), and the Tampere Art Museum (FI).

Peetu Liesinen completed his MFA from the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2020. He is a painter who uses drawing, photography and collage techniques. In painting, Liesinen enjoys the freedom of variability, but the pieces are none the less linked together by technique, atmosphere and materials. In his work, Liesinen strives for a balance between harmony and chaos. He lives and works in Fiskars. Liesinen’s work has been shown in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, SIC Galleria, Galleria Huuto, Mältinranta Art Centre, Lappeenranta Art Museum as well as internationally in Stockholm, London, Frankfurt and Berlin, to name a few. Liesinen’s work is also in the Kiasma Collection and the Finnish State Art Deposit Collection.

Visual artist Kim Somervuori graduated from the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2011 and also studied in Stockholm at the Vårdinge by Folkhögskola in 2005–2006. He has held solo exhibitions at the Art Salon Husa in Tampere and at Forum Box and Galleria Halmetoja in Helsinki, among others. Somervuori has participated in numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. His work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Kunsthalle Helsinki, the Aine Art Museum in Tornio and the Art Museums in Jyväskylä and Hämeenlinna. Somervuori’s art figures in many collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma’s collection, as well as the Saastamoinen and Paulo Foundation collections. Somervuori received the Finnish Art Society’s William Thuring Art Prize in 2015.

Linda ja Aura

Linda and Aura is a performance art duo made up of artists Linda Granfors and Aura Hakuri. Since 2001, the duo has polished their collective expression, developing a distinctive way of simultaneously creating devotional and fun performance art. Linda and Aura's work is driven by an interest in exploring within the blurred boundary between play and reality, along with the collision of the absurd and the realistic. The level of mutual understanding between the artists borders on fusion. The performances leave behind questions that might take the viewer a long time to answer - and live on as fascinating visual memories.

Ninni Luhtasaari

Ninni Luhtasaari works with hand embroidered contemporary textile art and ceramic fountain sculptures. The Tampere-based artist has exhibited in multiple solo and group shows in Finland, Berlin and Munich. Her works are in private collections around the world and in the collections of the Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Tampere Art Museum and the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM).

During the year 2021 she finished her first public art commission, a ceramic relief installation for a daycare in Helsinki. She is currently working on another public art project for a school building in Kangasala/Tampere, Finland. For Mänttä Art Festival she is creating a waterpark installation.

Aleksi Martikainen

Aleksi Martikainen is a visual artist who works with sculpture and moving image. Martikainen’s motorised sculptures and documentarist video recordings express observations from the artist’s personal existence and surrounding environment. Martikainen studied at the North Karelian University of Applied Arts and Science, the Lahti Art Institute and the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts where he will complete his MFA in 2023. Martikainen’s work has been shown, for example, in the Young Artist exhibition, and in solo exhibitions at Galleria Huuto in Helsinki as well as Galerie 21 in Hamburg Germany. His work is in the Finnish State Art Deposit Collection.

Rusto Myllylahti

At the heart of Rusto Myllylahti's artistic work is the joy and freeform of art. Their working process is founded on setting ideas in motion, and then following that motion and using it to improvise. Their work usually takes the form of an installation that is based on the exhibition space, using combined elements of different art practices. Under the surface of joy and freedom, lurks the trash, litter and doom of the consuming culture. Myllylahti's exhibitions are inspired by contemporary phenomenas, and their installations include ghostly characters, painted shirts, sounds, video and sculptures.

Myllylahti also works in music under the name Elatu Nessa. They are interested in the way that music and other forms of art interact together and how they occasionally merge.

Elina Nissinen & Max Hannus

Elina Nissinen is a visual artist who works, among other things, with clay, paint, humans and space. Max Hannus is a curator and writer working in the fields of desire, emotions and romance, at the intersections of relationships and art making. They are fascinated by questions regarding relationality and meaning-making, as well as the overlap of intersectional thinking with the matter(s) and manifestations of magic. Hannus and Nissinen are friends and together they discuss feelings and their related conceptualisations.

Anneli Nygren

Anneli Nygren is a video artist, author and on singer/songwriter. Her videos have been shown in various exhibitions and festivals since the beginning of the 1990s. Nygren was awarded the Finnish State Media Art Award in 2018. Her production includes three to thirty minute long fictions, animations, documentations and music videos. In addition, her drawings, photographs, books and magazines have been shown in various exhibitions which sometimes include her cameras, dolls and costumes.

The Mänttä Art Festival will present a retrospective by Anneli Nygren’s alter ego, rock star and Youtuber: Jonne 59. Jonne 59 is Anneli Nygren’s performance and video persona, who has performed live for over a decade and been on YouTube for the past five. The retrospective includes videos and photographs from Jonne’s production from way back and some completely new material as well.

Ida Palojärvi

Ida Palojärvi is an artist graduate of the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts who lives and works in Helsinki. The on-site installations she constructs, investigate the limitations and interferences of our perception, and propose new ways of experiencing space. She has exhibited, for example, at the Turku Art Hall, the HAM-Gallery, Galerie Anhava and Galleria Huuto. She is an artist-member and curator at Gallery Oksasenkatu 11 in Helsinki.

Sari Palosaari

Sari Palosaari works with the intertwining of space, time and materials, as well as with invisible forces, both natural and human-made. Her work includes materials such as rocks, snail dynamite, steel, brass, wax, glass, zinc, oxides, coal and found objects. She creates her poetic works with sensitivity to the features and functions of each exhibition space.

Palosaari's works have been exhibited at, for example, the Helsinki Biennale 2021, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Rauma Triennale 2019 and the Varbergs Konsthall. Her permanent public works are located in Uppsala, Porvoo and most recently in Helsinki, at the HUS Siltasairaala Hospital. She has been awarded with the Raimo Utriainen Art Prize and William Thuring Prize. Thank you, to the Arts Promotion Centre Finland for the operational grant.

Tuukka Peltonen

Tuukka Peltonen draws overlooked figures in his woodcuts. Here is a place for dreamers and outsiders. The artwork incorporates feelings of anticipation. Something is happening. The aesthetic of Peltonen’s work emanates the marginal. On the edge of the mainstream, there is an impulsive freedom and independence, which is embodied in the general attitude expressed in his work.

Tuukka Peltonen studied at the Kankaanpää Art School. He has held solo exhibitions at galleries such as the TM gallery, Galleria Sculptor, and the Mältinranta Art Centre. His artwork figures in many collections including, for example the Albertina Collection in Vienna, along with the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, HAM and the EMMA collections in Finland.

Eeva Peura

Eeva Peura completed her MFA at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. She paints with oil on canvas and draws paper based work. Peura’s work is more about themes and researching things that emerge as questions through the process, rather than answers and concepts.

Peura’s work figures in numerous private and public collections such as the HAM Helsinki Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Saastamoinen Foundation art collections. Her work has been shown in many exhibitions in Finland, such as Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki. In 2019 she was awarded the Finnish Art Society’s William Thuring Art Prize.

Iiri Poteri

Iiri Poteri works with video, performance, installation, photography and sound. In visual arts, Poteri is fascinated by the themes of vulnerability, immediacy and interaction, which, in her works, often turn to explore the relationship between the work of art and the audience. For Poteri, visual art is a way to approach people, because in this way we can be surprised and be heard.

Poteri graduated from the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts and has a background in photography. Poteri's work has been exhibited both in Finland and internationally, among recent group shows are "In Continuous Dialogue: Tracing Memories" (Helsinki, FI, 2023) and "Opus One '21" (Bruges, BE, 2021). Her work can be found in the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation Art Collection.

Raisa Raekallio & Misha del Val

Raisa Raekallio (Kittilä, Finland) and Misha del Val (Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain), are a Lapland-based artist couple who have worked collaboratively in paintings, drawings, performance art pieces, curatorial projects, and podcasts since 2013. ”We are interested in collaborative creation, where neither of us could produce the genius of the resulting artwork through our individual work, skill or inspiration. Our collaboration is based on listening, a similar sensitivity, curiosity and the trust we hold in one another and the process.”

In 2022, our works were part of exhibitions in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki; the Makasiini Contemporary, Turku; the Aine Art Museum, Tornio; Galleria Huuto, Helsinki; Galleria Rankka, Helsinki;  the Serlachius Residency, Mänttä; the Filet Art Space, London, UK; the Espacio Marzana - Cultural Projects, Bilbao, Basque Country, ES; and the Untitled Miami Art Fair, USA.

Sirkku Rosi

Sirkku Rosi creates watercolours from bodily experiences. She is intrigued by the research of flesh, the shared nature of cellular existence, the fragility of paper and our porous skin as a leaky boundary between humans and our environment. In Rosi’s work, sensual bodies lurk, birth and decompose. The twisting curves of intestines are a map to the garden, and organs penetrate through the skin like stones polished through time. Her work is a restrained carnival of flesh.

A graduate from the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts and the Aalto University of Arts, Rosi’s works can be found in collections such as the Finnish State Art Deposit Collection and the Tampere Art Museum Collection. Rosi has held numerous exhibitions in both Finland and abroad.

Pavel Rotts

Pavel Rotts (b.1982 Petrozavodsk, USSR) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Helsinki since 2015. Rotts works with various techniques and forms, such as installation, sculpture, performance, conceptual art and artistic research. Rotts holds an MFA from the Aalto University of Arts, Design and Architecture and has previously studied at St.Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design, graduating from Pro Arte Institute in 2008.

As an Ingrian Finn, he uses his identity as a starting point for many of his works. After the outbreak of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Rotts has actively participated in the anti-war movement, using his art and creative skills. In his practice, Pavel explores collective and personal memory, cultural identity and the position of a single person in a historical context.

Sasha Rotts

Sasha Rotts (b. 1985) is an artist and art historian born in St. Petersburg, now living and working in Helsinki. She graduated from the department of Art History at the Stieglitz Academy as well as from the Helsinki Free Art School. She is currently studying at the UNIARTS Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts. In 2009, she participated in the first Young Art Biennial in Moscow. Also in 2009, she, together with her partner Pavel Rotts, founded the artist duo SASHAPASHA. Together, the duo has worked in several artist residencies and held multiple exhibitions. Sasha Rotts’ work is in the collections of CCA Zarya, the Vyksa City Museum, the Art-re-Flex Galleria, the Norilsk City Museum and the Finnish Art Society’s annual lottery acquisition.

Maria Stereo

Maria Stereo lives and works in Kangasala. As an artist she is known for a decorative visuality, and for using recycled materials which are cleverly appropriated into her work. Stereo’s world is full of Rococo, kitsch and the surreal. Throughout her artistic production various sources of influence are audible such as the palace of Versailles with its decorative wall paper.

Stereo creates compounded sculptures and mosaics in relief where cuteness, dreams and nostalgia merge into plurally symbolic and mystical directions. Over the past few years Stereo’s work has been seen at the Seinäjoki Art Hall, as well as the Turku and Heinola Art Museums among others. Her most recent public artwork is a large scale bronze cuckoo clock, Ajaton (Timeless) in Vallila which is part of the Helsinki Art Museum collection, revealed in 2019.

Kari Vehosalo

The key themes of the paintings by Kari Vehosalo are usually about the human relationship to nature and, ultimately, the existential significance of human life. The work considers our place in the world, which is marked by uncertainty, beauty and fragility. For Vehosalo, art is a way of investigating thoughts, related to our existence, through aesthetic experiences.

Vehosalo graduated from the Lahti University of Applied Arts and Science and received his master’s degree from the Aalto University of Arts, Design and Architecture. His work figures in several important collections including that of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Sara Hildén Art Museum, and the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) collections. Vehosalo was awarded the Ars Fennica award in 2018.


Rebekka Kuukka, known by the artist name Yeboyah, is a Helsinki musician and artist who made their solo debut in 2017, with the release of their single Broflake. Their EP Elovena brought them an Emma nomination in 2019, and the related, multifaceted Elovena Visual EP video work, made Yeboyah one of the most talked about new artists of the year. Music and visuality are the main pillars of Yeboah’s artistic production. Their emotion-filled and captivating stage presence can be enjoyed in both intimate club settings as at Finlands larger music festivals.