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Image of a colorist painting in the Helsinki museum Amos Rex. The painting is a post-impressionist, colorist piece depicting bathing women.
Image of a colorist painting in the Helsinki museum Amos Rex. The painting is a post-impressionist, colorist piece depicting bathing women.
Diana Salim

A Bit of Color – Indulging in Colorful Scenes

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Helsinki chapter.

There is a gallery in the museum Amos Rex that is entirely dedicated to post-impressionist and colorist paintings. It’s not a large room and a vast collection, but it has impressive pieces that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a little world of light and colors that soothes and brightens your mood. I went to the museum with the intention of visiting this space only, to indulge in colors and simple depictions of the natural environment and the everyday. (There’s another quite massive video installation exhibit which, I’m afraid, didn’t interest me; my restless mood wasn’t up for it.)

The artworks, by different European artists, demonstrate beautiful skill as well as experimentation in capturing a scene entirely with colors. They seem to show the period between impressionism and neo-impressionism in painting, where the first style emphasizes a freer form of brush stroke that captures the immediate impressions of color and light, and the second a stricter style of applying color to create clearer shapes and patterns to depict characters and scenes. Some works specifically belong to post-impressionism for their vivid, almost unnatural color schemes that build the scene and thus make a mere ordinary view stunning and fascinating – and quite dreamlike. The exhibit is then a good showcase of the development from impressionism and a beautiful presentation of the colorist style—who doesn’t like a bit of color into these darker days?

Again, only one gallery space – and a little enclosed, three-wall space within that gallery with two comfortable chairs and artbooks around them – but quite the absorbing experience. The intense and striking as well as sensual color schemes and patterns, I noticed, relaxed my mind—put me in a better mood—and made me look at the paintings both from afar and up close. From afar, they remind me of those everyday scenes that we might observe from a significant distance, which makes the view overall blurred and all the aspects and details emerging into one another. Up close I observe the colors and the brush strokes which impresses me even more especially given the paintings following the pointillist style of painting – talk about strict pattern and patience. You can easily spend an hour in this small space.

Completely engaged, I did spend an hour looking at those works on those four walls. At the end, I just sat down on a bench and looked at a bigger painting by Alfred William Finch depicting a park view from Fiesole, a town in the region of Tuscany, and two women in the distant leaning on a railing, observing the town seemingly from a higher perspective. With lovely garden greenery, some of the brightest colors and the impression of a vast distance with a beautiful sunny view, I wish I could walk into the scene.

But my absolute favorite painting was this smaller one called Marine (1887) by Théo van Rysselberghe. It presents an open sea and two very distant sailing vessels gliding along the high horizon while waves beat against the shore. When looking at the whole composition with the sunny sky and glistening whitecaps, you can almost sense a fresh breeze and imagine the movement of the scene.

If you’re wondering what to do in the middle of the week or how to pass an hour, why not visit this colorful gallery space and let yourself be absorbed into these frames, place a bit of (painted) color into these darker wintery days. (Only 5 euros for students.)

An English major in University of Helsinki who adores culture's most valuable and beautiful subjects like literature and art.