Juha Ryytty

Vieremä (1950-2021)

Juha Ryytty, who lived in Vieremä, became interested in making art at a young age. He painted his first oil painting at the age of 17, and it was around that time when he also began writing poems. He did not stay at school beyond elementary school and trained as a car mechanic, working as a labourer and factory worker. He created versatile works of art for more than 50 years. Ryytty was a fully self-taught artist and was very prolific; he produced more than a thousand works and poems over the years. 

Juha Ryytty’s works are mainly oils on canvas, ink drawings on primed hardboard, painted wood sculptures, clay and plaster sculptures and photographs.

Ryytty was inspired by animals and nature but also found subjects from his own imagination. Ryytty’s works have an original style that is recognisably his: a very meticulous and precise technique in which the line eventually finds its own form and freedom. This combination is supported by Ryytty’s ingenious use of colours and sense of composition. The paintings and drawings are untitled though they are closely related to the poems the words and sentences of which emerged while Ryytty was making images. The poems deal with the lights and shadows of life, love and loneliness, being human.  

The municipal library in Vieremä has held five exhibitions of Juha Ryytty’s poems, drawings and paintings since 2014, and in 2020, the library staff compiled a collection of Ryytty’s poems to celebrate his 70th birthday. Onko kaikella tarkoitus niin kuin minulla was well received by the public. Ryytty was involved in the ITE art survey in Northern Savo in summer 2021, when he showed his works for the next exhibition in the library. Due to his untimely death, the library hold the exhibition as a memorial exhibition in August 2022. 

Text and photos: Mari Kekäläinen Translation: Kirsti Nurmela-Knox

ITE Art surveys / Northern Savonia 2020–2022