J. Karelius

Tampere (1956)

J. Karelius lives and works in Nekala, Tampere. He creates abundant photograpic collages, combining pin-up figures and polemical imagery on a background of the marshlands of North Ostrobothnia, where Karelius is originally from himself.

Karelius’ collages start with photographs that he takes, he then adds images of anything and everything using his computer. The pieces are layered with references to cultural history and wrapped in an avant-garde spirit. The resulting symbolistic-philosophical-dadaistic works of art have a distinctive style coined “Karelism” by the the artist himself.

Historical events and figures as well as religious themes are repeated in many of Karelius’ works. His collages often carry a political message, and an underground spirit is clearly present. The pieces have numerous references to political history, military history, cultural history, phychiatry, various religions, literature, film and music. In addition to pin-up girls, Karelius’ collages feature characters such as the preacher Lars Levi Laestadius, C. G. Jung, supporters of the anti-communist Lapua Movement of the 1930s, present-day politicians, John Wayne, a random dog or Baron Clas Eriksson Fleming from the Cudgel War uprising in the late 16th century.

The most cohesive series in J. Karelius’ production is the covers of his imaginary Kotimiesi magazines. It is a magazine targeted at men, and since it was first published before the Common Era, only the covers – which depict changes in society – have survived.

In addition to photo collages, Karelius also makes avant-garde videos.

Text: Minna Haveri

Videos about J. Karelius on the YouTube channel by the Association for Rural Culture and Education:

J. Karelius tietokoneen ääressä (J. Karelius at his computer)

J.Karelius and Kotimiesi