Erkki Nousiainen

Kerava (1926-2016)

Erkki Nousiainen was one of the very few Finnish artists who could, for good reason, be called a visionary artist in the same sense as the big names of French outsider art, Augustin Lesage and Joseph Crépin. His relationship with art was built through a deep spiritual connection, perhaps a kind of dialogue, between the visible and the invisible worlds.

Nousiainen’s home in Kurkela, Kerava, was like a small art sanctuary. Nousiainen said that the wooden sculptures, African masks, paintings, silver objects and porcelain plates that filled the flat conveyed the zeitgeist of a bygone era. He made ceramic sculptures, and there were ornaments painted directly on the wall among his works, and so many oil, pastel and acrylic paintings that some were simply stored in piles. Most of them are “messages from another reality”, something that Nousiainen already became accustomed to receiving as a young boy.

The theme of Nousiainen’s works is usually an aspect of existence. Nousiainen described the twists and turns of interpersonal relationships in his works; Suutelossa suolan maku (‘A kiss that tastes of salt’, 1995) being an example, its atmosphere neither soppily romantic, bitter nor desperate, but rather playful in a matter-of-fact manner. The text and image show how “you kiss in front of people”, yet “you dig a hole behind their back”. It does not seem to be a case of deception, but something much bigger, at least the hole with the cross seems to point in that direction.

Nousiainen depicts people as figures with expanding limbs that blend into the background and with each other. Huge, sparkling eyes and decorative, colourful haloes around heads appear to be the most distinctive features of Nousiainen’s works. The bodies of the figures merge into an ornamental universe the reality of which is embroidered with dots and shares features with the visions of other visionary artists, such as Lesage and Crépin mentioned above, but also with the works of the Polish artist Władysław Luciński.

Nousiainen’s paintings have been displayed in several exhibitions in Finland and in other countries such as Hungary. Nousiainen represented Finland at the INSITA triennial in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2010.

Text: Arja Elovirta.
Images: Marcus Riska / K.H.Renlund Museum
 Old pictures from the artist’s flat: Raija Kallioinen


Erkki Nousiainen’s works can be found in the collection of the Art and Museum Centre Sinkka in Kerava and in the ITE art collection of the Association for Rural Culture and Education.

The works in the images in this article are from the ITE art collection.

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