Mänttä Art Festival was first arranged in 1993. A biennial event during the early years, the festival has been arranged annually since 1999. For the first four events the town of Mänttä awarded a prize of FIM 100,000 for an artist or a group; since 2001, the prize has been awarded every second year, the sum now being 8,500 €. Lions Club Mänttä has awarded a prize of FIM 10,000 (1,000 € since 2002) for the audience´s favourite work. In 1997, Merita bank awarded a prize of FIM 5,000 for an artist selected by a youth panel.

Curator Juha Sääski

The Helsinki-based Juha Sääski accepted the challenge to arrange the very first exhibition, which the organisers hoped to develop into the most significant showcase of contemporary art in Finland. The process was full of surprises for all parties involved. Exhibition sites were among the most burning issues: they were found all around the town, but the extraordinary diversity may actually have positively contributed to the original ambience of the event. From the very start, the support and encouragement from the town authorities was important for the festival.

Juha Sääski invited 57 artists to participate: their works created great interest in the public. Techniques and methods varied, representing the whole gamut of contemporary art: performances, paintings, sculpture, video art, photographs etc. In addition to the audience, the media also showed interest in the event from the very beginning: the first exhibition was a sound basis for the future.

Aarne Jämsä FIM 100,000
Pauno Pohjolainen FIM 10,000


Curator Ilkka Juhani Takalo-Eskola

The 1995 Mänttä Art Festival was eagerly anticipated, and Ilkka Juhani Takalo-Eskola gathered a full house and then some. There were 164 artists, which made the festival the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries. Again, no stones were left unturned when looking for suitable spaces. An empty block of flats with art displayed in every flat was something of a novelty, and certainly among the most unusual exhibition spaces in the history of Finnish art, still recalled by many.

Ilkka Juhani Takalo-Eskola emphasised diversity in art, and variety was indeed what resulted. The good people of Mänttä - and perhaps others, too - became familiar with performances and installations. After some heated discussion, the nature and forms of contemporary art slowly became rooted in people´s thoughts.

Anu Tuominen FIM 100,000
Nina Terno FIM 10,000


Curator Hannu Castrén

The next curator, Hannu Castrén from Jyväskylä, was the first one who was not primarily a maker of art. True, he was also an artist, but first and foremost Castrén is known as an art critic. He toured the country and used his expertise when choosing 95 artists for Mänttä.

People were still a bit breathless after the giant-sized previous exhibition, and Castrén´s collection had a great challenge to justify its existence. The exhibition was expertly compiled and promoted the cause of contemporary art in terms of both aesthetics and content. The Mänttä town art prize, which was awarded to the performance of Sari Lievonen and Heikki Mäntymaa, raised a lot of discussion.

Sari Lievonen and Heikki Mäntymaa FIM 100,000
Tapani Hietalahti FIM 10,000
Kimmo Schroderus FIM 5,000

1999 TIME
Curator Antero Toikka

Antero Toikka wanted to highlight the millennium, building the exhibition around the theme of Time. There were 80 artists, and an old spirits factory was introduced as a new exhibition space. Protected by the National Board of Antiquities, the industrial building emphasised the chosen theme, and its roughness was an interesting contrast to the refined Honkahovi building.

Time was also manifest in the line-up of artists, who had started their careers in the course of five decades, the first in the 1950s.
Environmental art was a special focus in the exhibition: the festival was visibly present in the townscape, which contributed to the image of Mänttä as an art town.

Timo Humaloja and Marja Kanervo FIM 100,000
Kimmo Pyykkö FIM 10,000

Curator Teemu Mäki

The uncompromising artist Teemu Mäki was an ideal choice to curate a festival expressing the same spirit. Mäki only invited 27 artists to participate, but each got plenty of space for their works. The wretched image of man was candidly depicted, and the curator´s own works were an essential element in the exhibition. Issues raised included violence, the essence of being human, ethics and sexuality.

The personality of Mäki also raised some discussion in Mänttä. Newspaper s d redged up works he had made over a decade ago, and even the word ‘boycott´ was mentioned. The curator defended his policies by explaining that art is not about ingratiating the audience, it is a serious part of life where different forms of existence are openly and frankly discussed.
Coherent and integral, the exhibition mostly consisted of paintings.

Pauliina Turakka Purhonen FIM 10,000
In 2000, the town of Mänttä did not award a prize. The award for the audience´s favourite donated by Lions Club Mänttä wa s d istributed.


Curator Marja Kolu

Curator Marja Kolu wanted to play with associations. She collected an exhibition that could have been in the possession of a fictitious collector of contemporary art, thus presenting a showcase of today´s art as versatile as possible. The result was a rich exhibition of high quality; Kolu specially wanted to highlight contemporary prints and photographs. The graphic prints were large-scale series with potency, bellowing at the audience from the rugged walls of the spirits factory.

The issues raised by the exhibition curated by Marja Kolu were communality in art, change in the continuum of techniques, and feeling, smelling and hearing in addition to seeing. 75 artists participated in the exhibition.
Outi Pieski FIM 50,000

Riikka Lenkkeri and Päivi Häkkinen-Marko Karpow-Joonas Salusjärvi shared FIM 10,000.

Curator Kaisu Koivisto

The Satakunta-based artist Kaisu Koivisto invited 48 artists to discuss the relationships between man and the environment and rural and urban nature. Pekilo was introduced as a new exhibition, and in spite of its unfinished state, it attracted great interest and admiration among artists and viewers alike.

The works of art on display brought forth personal experiences of the surrounding reality and changes in it, emphasising the fact that nature remains an important issue for Finnish artists irrespective of whether they live in the city or in the country. Ethical issues were also raised: the rights of human beings in relation to their environment were scrutinised.

Tiina Ketara 1,000 €

Curator Kimmo Schroderus

The 2003 exhibition did justice to the Pekilo building, with the sculptor Kimmo Schroderus as the curator who brought to Mänttä the largest sculpture event ever seen here. Hi s d ecision to focus solely on sculpture was a successful one. Thanks to the versatile and high-ceilinged spaces in Pekilo, the works of art could be viewed from several directions. The works of art displayed in Honkahovi and the surrounding park complemented the exhibition in style. The exhibition provided an all-round impression of the current state of sculpture, full of surprise in terms of both content and technique.

There were 49 participating sculptors, with their crafts, skills and a passion for treating materials as the common denominator. The exhibition was warmly welcomed by the audience, the media and the art circles, and no doubt increased the understanding of the language of expression of contemporary art.

Markus Copper 8,500 €
Anssi Kasitonni 1,000 €

Curator Kari Kenetti

The Helsinki-based Kari Kenetti chose not to pick any theme or title, relying instead on his personal knowledge of the field. Using his experienced gallerist´s eye, Kenetti invited 28 artists to participate in Mänttä Art Festival and compiled an interesting collection of works for Pekilo and Honkahovi. Two-dimensional art was in focus: the art of painting, for example, showed to be in full strength, but it may take astounding forms.

Many of the artists were well established, and academic studies were clearly discernible in many reflective works. The exhibition curated by Kenetti interestingly highlighted the historical strata in the visual arts, with contemporary interpretations of landscapes, portraits and still lifes.

No prizes were awarded.


Curator Juhani Tuominen

2005 marked the tenth anniversary of Mänttä Art Festival, with 45 artists participating. The festival was curated by Juhani Tuominen (b.1949), a Rovaniemi-based artist and Professor in the Faculty of Art at the University of Lapland. Since the 1980s, Tuominen has focused in his own art on the Turkish Ottoman culture, particularly their mausoleums, türbes. A man of contemplation, Tuominen ha s d epicted hundreds of these on paper and canvas over the years.

Through the exhibition he curated, Tuominen wished to bring to the fore deliberate coincidences and juxtapositions between various spatial and temporal issues. One of these was the Northern approach in relation to Southern, something that was particularly highlighted in general discussion and by the media. Tuominen himself did not intend to compile a Northern exhibition, but as both he and many of the artists he invited came from the north of Finland, the issue was often addressed during the summer. From the point of view of the exhibition´s past and future, such a geographic approach was of course only positive, as the festival wishes to cover contemporary art all around Finland.

Another evident juxtaposition was that of generations. The age difference between the oldest artist (Lauri Anttila, b.1938) and the youngest (Eemil Karila, b.1978) was 40 years. The works of the artists of different ages formed an interesting dialogue, with philosophical paintings, aesthetically documentary photographs, socially committed installations and cross-disciplinary art. After a few years pause, performance art returned to Mänttä, with both Pekilo and Honkahovi as venues. The balanced whole created by the curators was also dynamic in terms of expression: a humorous work was mounted adjacent to one of solemn reflection, and universal argumentation side by side with intimate soliloquies.

The City of Mänttä awarded its € 8,500 prize to Jaakko Niemelä´s installation Suurin on rakkaus (But the greatest of these is love), on display in the topmost room of Pekilo. Niemelä tore down the old board structures in the room, provided it with smoke and light effects and darkened the space. The result was a dramatic work of art, which echoed the atmosphere of recent destruction and loss. On the universal level, the work commented on the current state of the world, but there was also a personal message: the artist dedicated the work to his mother, who had recently passed away. The prize was judged by Maila-Katriina Tuominen, a human rights and cultural issues editor in Aamulehti.

The €1,000 audience favourite prize sponsored by Lions Club Mänttä was awarded to Kaija Kiuru. Her installation, Love and Peace, also on display in Pekilo, was a camping tent consisting of crocheted pot holders and delighted the audience with its colourfulness and innovation. Yet the work also had a more serious message: with the vulnerable dwelling, Kiuru wanted to refer to the countless refugee camps around the world, where it is often women who are responsible for creating makeshift homes and shelters.

Jaakko Niemelä 8,500 €
Kaija Kiuru 1,000 €



Curator Helena Sederholm

The professor on art education at the University of Art and Design Helsinki laid the concept of intimacy to the artists to deal with. She invited 30 artists/artist groups. Sederholm wanted to confuse and question people's ideas of intimacy. Like art itself, intimacy turned out to be a very versatile concept.

The issue of intimacy came out by contrasts: large works were dealing with small private things, or the scale of space and art works brought out intimate tensions. The display of the exhibition got plenty of positive feedback, especially in Pekilo.

The experiences of the spectators also played an important role at carrying out the theme. While watching and listening to the exhibition the audience was unavoidably thinking of its own relation to intimacy, and so the slips or the confirmations of the attitudes caused desired moves.

One of the specialities was a living goat Hessu, that Jukka Lehtinen and Marko Suomi had brought to the park of Honkahovi. He was well taken care of and after the exhibition he ended up to a goat farm living happily with other goats.

No prizes were awarded



Curator Jani Leinonen

Curator Jani Leinonen challenged the audience by claiming to bring The 25 Best Artists in Finland to Mänttä. The provoking title immediately caused a lively debate about art. Leinonen's own idea of art is very much connected with marketing; on the other hand he acts like a merchant or an advertiser, but at the same time he is criticizing and questioning the values around us.

This point of view was also shown in the exhibition of the Mänttä Art Festival. There was a bunch of young and eager artists who didn't hesitate to use commercial and popular elements in their art. A lively world of contrasts arose, admiration and criticism, humorous and serious, truth and fake were playing with each other. Also the Finnish and outside world were discussing, there were German, American and Russian artists participating as well.

In this exhibition art was spreading also outside the actual art works. On the web site, in the streets and cafés there was a lively debate which clearly was part of the contents. In spite of the bright and loud front silent points existed in the exhibition. In fact such a silent artist conquered the heart of the one-woman jury Reetta Mustajoki. Ilona Valkonen won the Mänttä art prize with a meditating and open work called Indoor karensansui that was situated in Pekilo. Petri Ala-Maunus was awarded by Lions Club Mänttä as The Favorite of the Audience.

There were 25 participating artists / artist groups.

Ilona Valkonen 8 500 €
Petri Ala-Maunus 1 000 €


Curator Veli Granö


Curator Tuula Karjalainen


Curator Annu Vertanen


Curator Otso Kantokorpi

Curator Ilona Valkonen

Curator Jyrki Siukonen

Curator Minna Joenniemi


The following have served as exhibition spaces: Art Centre Honkahovi (1993-2007), the Mill (1993-2001), Lampitalo (1993), Peltola (1993, 1997), Mäntylinna block of flats (1995), former vocational school and its dormitory (1995, 1997), Eerola maintenance building (1997), Honkahovi side building (1999), Spirits Factory (1999-2001), adjacent outdoor areas, Pekilo (2002-).

See all the artists participated in the Mänttä Art Festival by the link below:

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