Lust for Life

Helsinki Contemporary 2022

One of the Lust for Life artists, Norbert Schwontkowski (1949–2013), perceives this movement as an attraction of contrasts. For Schwontkowski, art takes place between the warmth of one’s body and the coldness of space. It is a negotiation between the two in the moment that merges an everyday gesture with – and through – the inexplicability and incomprehensibility of the universe.

The same thing, in his own words, was the topic of a song by Mr Osterberg – or, if we are more accurate with the timeline, a younger Mr Osterberg. The song tells about modern lads and their... well, hobbies, ideas, and dreams. For Osterberg, the episode spanned a little over five minutes. For most of us searching for it, getting close to it, it spans a lifetime. Searching for what everything in the end is about: creating, and even maintaining, the freshness and surprise, fun and beautiful freedom of actions.

This time we have five weeks to face it, the cycle and current of joie de vivre. To search for the joy of life, always finding and creating a new twist. Lust for Life is a space and a situation, as well as an occasion, where the doctor tells you to take off your shirt right away, sharp and careful, still following Mr Osterberg, not necessarily concretely, but symbolically, with the power and echo of a metaphor, with and in the joy of life.’

The artists of the exhibition are Ville Andersson, Birgir Birgisson, Eeva-Riitta Eerola, Hannaleena Heiska, Jukka Korkeila, Heidi Lampenius, Robert Lucander, Rauha Mäkilä, Roland Persson, Anna Retulainen, Janne Räisänen, Norbert Schwontkowski, Astrid Sylwan, Marianna Uutinen, Miikka Vaskola 

Helsinki Contemporary, which has operated at two different locations in Helsinki, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Founded in 2007 by Antti Piippo and Pilvi Kalhama, the exhibition spaces – originally called Kalhama & Piippo – were located in Kaivopiha. In 2011, the gallery began operating at the current address in Bulevardi 10.

From the beginning, Helsinki Contemporary focused on long-term cooperation with its artists. Through its carefully curated programme, the gallery has always provided audiences with international coverage of current exhibitions by multiple artists, each at different stages in their careers.

The 15-year-anniversary exhibition Lust for Life – Celebrating 15 Years of Helsinki Contemporary is delightful, insightful, and profound. Curator Mika Hannula compiled a combination of new works and highlights from the gallery’s 15-year journey; he describes the exhibition in the following ways:

‘Lust for Life is about joie de vivre, tuning up, and breakaways; in other words, life at its best. It combines elements that are brand new with passing moments from the past 15 years, joyfully showing what has been and what will be. Lust for Life is movement, desire, and curiosity to go from a starting point to a destination and back. It is joy at bringing close what feels distant and at gaining distance from what is close. It is also about opening up and turning towards something that does not exist yet, something that we do not recognise but anticipate.