Rut Bryk Centenary Exhibition | EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art

EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art

EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art is one of the biggest museums in Finland.

Rut Bryk Centenary Exhibition

This summer’s major exhibition at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art features Rut Bryk, a key reformer of modern Finnish ceramic art. Rut Bryk - The Magic Box runs from May 12 to September 4, 2016.
The exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth and forms part of EMMA’s 10th anniversary programme. It continues EMMA’s series of exhibitions showcasing leading names in Finnish modernism, which has previously featured Tapio Wirkkala, Birger Kaipiainen and Lars-Gunnar Nordström.
Choosing ceramics as her primary medium, Rut Bryk (1916 – 1999) spent over fifty years working in the Art Department at the Arabia porcelain factory. Bryk was a key modernizer of Finnish ceramic art and a boldly original artist of international acclaim. This exhibition and the accompanying extensive catalogue produced by EMMA celebrate the museum’s 10th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rut Bryk and her husband Tapio Wirkkala.
A great admirer of the Italian Proto-Renaissance masters, Rut Bryk’s love of art began in her childhood home. In her youth she dreamed of a career in architecture, but instead she studied printmaking, spending her early career working as an illustrator and graphic artist. Her artistic career began in earnest when she was offered a position at the Arabia porcelain factory, though she had no prior experience working with ceramics. At Arabia she perfected her skills with support from experienced colleagues and the professionals at the factory. Bryk studied, worked and experimented tirelessly. She became a master of her craft with a brilliant command of colours and glazes, yet she never wanted to call herself a ceramist. Her medium was above all a technique and material for creating unique works of art. Bryk never designed anything for mass production at the factory. Although she worked serially, she specialized in one-off art ware and objets d’art: reliefs, art plates, sculptures and installations.
Bryk’s highly original art is infused with great sensitivity and intensity of mood. Her early works are colourful and narrative. She later abandoned narrativity in favour of compositions with a powerful spatial resonance and kinship to architecture, assembling monumental reliefs from myriad components. Bryk created numerous monumental ceramic reliefs for public venues including Helsinki’s Town Hall and the Mäntyniemi Presidential Residence. Bryk’s oeuvre remains intriguing and relevant today. Contemporary viewers continue to be touched by her radiantly refined colours, her moving characters and engaging narratives, yet no less by their powerful sense of materiality and spatiality.
Rut Bryk - The Magic Box is divided into five sections which chronologically and thematically chart the different stages of her career. Over 200 exhibits are featured, most of which are from the Tapio Wirkkala – Rut Bryk Foundation Collection, which is deposited at EMMA. The exhibition also includes works on loan for example from private collections. It is curated by Adjunct Professor Harri Kalha, PhD, who also authored the catalogue. The exhibition architecture is by Linda Bergroth and the catalogue’s visual identity is by Anne Kaikkonen. Also featured is a multi-part installation dedicated to Rut Bryk by her daughter, the internationally acclaimed contemporary artist Maaria Wirkkala. The patron of the exhibition is Jenni Haukio, spouse of the President of the Republic of Finland.
During the exhibition EMMA will host a community art project taking the form of workshops at various venues around Espoo. The workshop participants will create a communal work of art to be placed on display outside the WeeGee Exhibition Centre. The project is inspired by Rut Bryk’s art and by the concrete facades of the WeeGee Exhibition Centre. The resultant artwork created by the local community will celebrate EMMA’s 10th anniversary. The artist overseeing the project was chosen on the basis of an open call for ideas. The selected proposal was Fallen from the Trees by Anni Rapinoja. The work pays tribute to Bryk both in its nature-inspired theme and its mosaic-like composition, whilst retaining its own distinctive visual identity.
After its run at EMMA, Rut Bryk - The Magic Box will tour the Art Museum of Oulu from October 1, 2016 to January 15, 2017.
EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art is one of the most important art museums in Finland. EMMA’s exhibition rooms are divided between a presentation of the Saastamoinen Foundation Art Collection and changing exhibitions. Through its collection and exhibition activities, EMMA profiles itself as a museum of domestic and international modernism, contemporary art, and design. EMMA is located in the WeeGee Exhibition Centre in Tapiola, Espoo.
Founded in 2003, the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation is entrusted with the task of maintaining the Wirkkala/Bryk Collection and supporting related research, exhibitions and publications. The collection will be deposited at the WeeGee Exhibition Centre in 2017 in line with the Foundation’s long-term goal of establishing a permanent venue for the collection. At the end of last year, the City of Espoo, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art and the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation signed an agreement to place the Foundation’s collection on permanent display at the WeeGee Exhibition Centre as part of the Espoo Museum of Modern Art. The agreement will ensure that this nationally valuable collection is properly preserved, maintained and presented to the public. The collection will be displayed in a new exhibition space raising EMMA’s profile as an exhibitor of design. This internationally significant collection presents an opportunity for EMMA to offer a wider array of content and for the WeeGee Exhibition Centre to broaden its appeal as an international event centre showcasing contemporary design.
Further information:

Pilvi Kalhama, Museum Director, EMMA  p. +358 40 533 4070
Henna Paunu, Chief Curator, EMMA p. +358 43 824 6354
Iia Palovaara, Communication Coordinator, EMMA
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