Paul Osipow

From the series Katkaistuja, 1996, acrylic on canvas, 181 x 150 cm. Photo: Jussi Tiainen


Paul Osipow (b. 1939) is an undisputed and enigmatic classic of Finnish art. When looking at his output over the years, it at first glance seems devoid of continuity, logic and plot. The motifs and styles of the works range from pop art to constructivism, from soft colourism to muscular representation, and sometimes a combination of the two.

Widely read and travelled, Osipow can be described as a civilised rebel. He draws influences and ideas from books, travel, art and everyday life without restraint and treats them with complete freedom. Regardless of their differences, all of Paul Osipow’s works share certain characteristics: precise focus, vigour, risk taking and risk management. That is why, despite their apparent differences, they are always recognisably Osipow’s works.

This retrospective solo exhibition features works from the 1970s to the 2020s. The works on paper in the gallery’s ground floor space were created in Grassina, Italy, where Osipow worked during the winter of 2020–2021.

Kari Kenetti, the exhibition’s curator and a long-time supporter and friend of the artist, says:

“What personally attracts me to Paul’s art is the lack of style. He’s a man without an agenda. He couldn’t care less about stylistic movements. We’ve often talked about this. Sometimes he seems to be a little jealous of artists who stick to their chosen path and can at best deepen their expression. He made a little joke about it once when we were looking at works in his studio. We were looking at some messy canvases and he just scoffed at their Finnish constructivism.

I like the way that he takes on new things and surprises the viewer. I’ve been lucky in that the doors of his studio have always been open to me. We’ve looked at the works and discussed them quite casually. Two important aspects of the works themselves are important to me – the use of colour and composition. Basic stuff.”

Paul Osipow studied at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts from 1958 to 1962, at the Free Art School, and at the University of Texas from 1975 to 1976. He has work in numerous prestigious public and private collections, including the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the National Museum of Norway, and the Finnish National Gallery. He has presented his work in extensive solo exhibitions in several venues, including Kunsthalle Helsinki (2019), Amos Anderson Art Museum (2007), Kunsternes Hus in Oslo (2005–2006) and the Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art (1993). Paul Osipow has also had a long career as a teacher, having taught at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, the Lahti Art Institute and the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.


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Patonki, 2008
oil on canvas
30 x 60 cm

Matala tila, 1973
acrylic on canvas
149,5 x 150 cm

Ranskalainen talo, 2004
oil on canvas
120 x 144 cm

Untitled, 2022
oil on canvas
20 x 30 cm

Untitled, 1979
acrylic on canvas, board
120 x 120 cm

From the series Katkaistuja, 1996
acrylic on canvas
180 x 150 cm

Untitled, 1983
acrylic and charcoal on canvas
151 x 110 cm

Matala tila, 1972
acrylic on canvas
189 x 188 cm

Conté crayon and ink on paper, framed
65 x 85 cm

installation view
Photo: Jussi Tiainen

installation view
Photo: Jussi Tiainen

installation view
Photo: Jussi Tiainen