Professor Riitta Nelimarkka is a distinctive and versatile artist whose repertoire includes graphic art, animated films, paintings, art and poetry books, textile art, and extensive exhibition entities. She has doctor´s degree in the arts (DA at UIAH, Helsinki) and has studied painting in Paris, photography, film and art education at the Konstfacken, Academy of Art in Stockholm and piano playing at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
Her art is characterized by brilliant colors and innovative irony. In recent years, her production has centered on comprehensive collections of drawings, photographs, velvet pictures and woolen reliefs. She has also been commissioned a great number of works, including the large-scale "Con Calore" woolen carpets for the official residence of the President of Finland.
Her artworks, illustrations and animated films have been presented at various international festivals and biennals. She has been awarded numerous prizes and honorary mentions for her works.
Short biography 2020 (pdf)
My Helsinki studio is a paradise of being and a wilderness of thought. It is a lovely refuge. A womb. A seventh dimension. I put some music on and forget the reality outside. I sift through everything as suits my own mind. I don’t think about the role of art. About its morality, ethics or ability to influence. Its beauty or goodness. Skilfulness makes me laugh or cry. I don’t do mental craftwork. This is an ideal situation. I write, I paint, I sketch. I make, I don’t think. The studio is my personal lagoon, where judgement can be cast aside. Afterwards, I investigate what has been done. The sky falls once a day. In life there is nothing for it but to rejoice in what little there is.
My art - Elise thinks on behalf of me.“Nature loves to hide.” Herakleitos. The sun is new every day! Moon is older. Love is blind, which makes it earless. It rests by changing. Bad memory and many friends. All things are one. All things are none.
PROFESSOR RIITTA NELIMARKKA has always chosen her own distinct path. Whatever technique or genre her art takes, from paintings and animated films to books, woolen reliefs and photomontages, the unique way of presenting it always remains. »My art emerges from real life, reflecting its joys and sorrows, conflicts and shocks, its normality and its chain of coincidences. I use parallels drawn from literature, film and music, but it’s always the personal experience which wins the process.” During years Nelimarkka has had numerous large exhibitions from Los Angeles and Lima to Bruxelles and Moscow. She has studied painting in Paris, film in Stockholm and music theory & piano performance at the Sibelius Academy. She has a doctorate degree in the arts and she has received the honorary title professor from the president of Finland. She has been the chairman of Nelimarkka-foundation since 1987.
The latest bigger works are the 13 meters long glass painting "Without too much thinking” at Hietaniemi pavilion 2016, and the same year the visualization for Debussy´s 5 Preludes for the Radio Symphony Orchestra. An exciting Gesamtskunstwerk with her husband Jaakko Seeck, is Bonga Castle, an old patrician house decorated by Nelimarkka´s over 200 works.
In 2016 she was awarded by the Order of France with the distinction of Officier des Arts et Lettres.
Riitta Nelimarkka resides in Finland, in Helsinki. She swims every morning year around, no matter how cold the water in the sea is, and has a hunting license. She loves movies that make her cry and never underestimates the power of a good laugh. ”I work every day but I also party every day in some way or another. I’m an idealist and I don’t want to give in. Pain exists, but you don’t need to work everything through pain.” Riitta Nelimarkka says.
Riitta Nelimarkka-Seeck is a graduate art teacher 1972, Master of Art (MA) 1998 and Doctor of Art (DA) 2001 at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (UIAH).
She has also studied at the University of Helsinki, at the Sibelius Academy, at the School of Applied Arts and design in Stockholm, Sweden and at the Institute of Industrial Arts, Department of Film and Television.
Since 1971 she has been working together and separate with her husband Jaakko Seeck as an artist and producer in the fields of film, literature and pictorial and textile art, creating and producing e.g. animated films, large exhibitions and art & poetry books.
AWARDS AND PRIZES
Riitta Nelimarkka has received a number of prizes for her books and animations including the honorary award by the Union of Finnish Critics in 1974, the State quality award for motion pictures in 1972, 1973 and 1979, the Jussi honorary award (the Finnish "Oscar") in 1979, a Special honorary prize at Tampere International Short Film Festival in 1979, Jury´s Special prize at Giffony, Italy 1980 and Risto Jarva prize in 1985. 2008 December Riitta Nelimarkka received the honorary title Professor awarded by the President of the Republic of Finland.
POSITIONS OF TRUST
Her positions of trust include membership on the board of the Finnish Film Archive and the Finnish film magazine Filmihullu ("Film Freak"). She has also served at the National Council for Cinema, the Finnish Film Foundation and the Finnish Cultural Section of Unesco. Since 1987 she has been the president of Nelimarkka Foundation, since 1973 the president of board of Seneca, since 2001-2003 a member of the National Council for Design and 2003 -2005 a member of Design and Public display grant.
Many of Nelimarkka´s big textile works have found homes abroad especially in Finnish embassies and consulates in several cities all around the world. A remarkable work is the huge art textile Con Calore I - II commissioned for Mäntyniemi, the official residence of the President of Finland.
SELECTED PRIVATE EXHIBITIONS
Amos Anderson art museum, Helsinki - Finland 1990. Art Centre of Pyrri, Savonlinna - Finland 1991. Wäinö Aaltonen museum, Turku - Finland 1994. Kunsthall, Helsinki - Finland 1994. Savonlinna Art museum, Savonlinna - Finland 1995. Tikanojan taidekoti, Vaasa - Finland 1996. Maurizberg Castle, Sweden 2000. Finnish Cultural Institut, Berlin - Germany 2000. EXPO 2000, Hannover - Germany 2000. FIDM, Los Angeles - USA 2001. Culture centre DOM, Moscow - Russia 2005. Gallery Tšeretelji, Moscow - Russia 2005. The Fortress of St. Peter and Paul, St. Petersburg - Russia 2006. Museo de la Nacion, Lima - Peru 2006. EU parliament, Brussels - Belgium 2006. Hallwylska museet, Stockholm - Sweden 2007. La ”MAISON DE L´AMÉRIQUE LATINE DE MONACO”, Monaco 2008. In addition to several gallery exhibitions as well as a number of joint art exhibitions, graphic biennales and film festivals in different countries.
Praise has also been bestowed on her picture books and children's books, which include "The Robbing of the Sampo" (rewarded e.g. by the Finnish Society of Kalevala), "The Seven Brothers", "The Space", "The Big and The Small in the Universe", "The Gallery", "Karmelia's ABC" (which received an award in Bologna, Italy, 1990), "Babylonia" (rewarded in Bologna and in Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1992), "Oceania" (invited to Biennale Brno 1993) and "Apollon". She has also published two illustrated collections of poems, "Tabula Rasa" and "Giovanna Idiaatta" (1996) and also a romantic, philosophical poem by the title "Self Portrait Elise´s Dissertation, Variation of a variation" (2000). Elise´s Unmemories (2008). Seven Brothers (2009). Big and Small in the Universe (2010)
Animations by Nelimarkka & Seeck (SENECA OY) include "The Legend of the Sampo" (60 min), based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala in 1972-1974, the old ballad of "Bishop Henry and Lalli" (11min) in 1974, the first Finnish full-length animated motion picture "The Seven Brothers" in 1979 and a series "Bagatelles op. 1 - 13, semi-sad human fates in the nut shell" (25 min) in 1972-1974 and "The Birth of Rabula (11 min.), a musical animation on creation in 1995.
THE BONGA CASTLE is an exciting, even peculiar sight in the heart of the idyllic small town of Loviisa, immediately south of the church. Its original design was made by Mr. Th. Hjelt, an architect from Helsinki. After the Finnish civil war, the house ended up owned by the Baumgartner family. Its Jugendstil from with its red roofed towels was modified according to the design of architect Hilding Ekelund into a granite castle along the lines of Italian neo-Classicism and functionalism.
In 1987 the estate came into its present owners Riitta Nelimarkka and Jaakko Seeck. The worn-out patrician castle has been renovated in the course of the years, with reverence to its old style. The house has been heated ecologically with wood chips since 1987. Also the engineering of the building has been completely redone. The church-side wing of the big main building now serves as atelier and production spaces. The south-side of the building has been renovated into an art museum-gallery that is open to the public. Nearly two hundred of Nelimarkka´s works are displayed there: drawings, aquarelles, graphic art, collages, woolen and flax reliefs, textile pictures, paintings, art and poetry books, photographs and animated films.
At Bonga Castle in Loviisa, 80km from Helsinki, is my second studio. My third, fourth and fifth travel with me on planes and trains, in dreams. If Loviisa is a city, then Helsinki is New York. So small and peaceful is Loviisa.
Even if I arrive a nervous wreck and sick of rushing around, at Bonga time stands still in a sphere, a “ball”, and a strange peace is traced on my soul. The more-than-a-century-old building exudes history. Even if you ask it nothing, the walls answer back. An ideal setting for coming up with ideas. The haunting of the building is incomparable and hilarious. And yet, sometimes during the night, you can hear teardrops falling. Bonga is strangely large, outright pompous in appearance, but surprisingly well-suited to being a half-mad stronghold of art. There is a nice contrast.
Renovating the building has taken us more than 20 years. Or actually it has given us those years. It is heated ecologically with woodchips, a solution we have not regretted for a moment. Half of the house is studio, working and storage spaces. Half is a whitewashed gallery, where the works are hung, mostly on aesthetic grounds. No chronology… “Time is an illusion”. (Einstein). Time is not a line and “change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal”. (Schopenhauer).
Bonga castle is itself a person, a myrtle philosopher standing on stone feet. Its silence is magical, but it is equally lovable when the whole edifice and gardens are filled with friends, visitors, musicians… With adults, youths and children. Actually it is always precisely then that its most beautiful flowers burst into bloom.