The exhibition presents an extensive overview of the work of artist Eva Törnwall-Collin (1896–1982). Comprising more than 50 pieces, it highlights the various facets of the artist’s work, with a special focus on her arresting depictions of contemporaries and portraits illuminating inner worlds. The show also includes Törnwall-Collin’s famous award-winning competition entries for monumental paintings for the Finnish National Theatre.

Eva Törnwall-Collin was a versatile and distinctive modernist. She painted landscapes, still lifes and above all people.

Some of her pictures that seem like portraits may be imaginary: the artist was fascinated by mysticism and would often portray people from another reality. She also painted many self-portraits depicting her self-identities and different roles. Törnwall-Collin stressed that her art was founded on the assimilation of external and internal experiences.

One of the motivations behind the exhibition is recent art historical research that highlights artists neglected or even forgotten because of their gender. Eva Törnwall-Collin is one such artist. Her work was in the past often compared to the work of her husband, painter Marcus Collin, and was often seen by critics as being derivative and of a poorer quality. Törnwall-Collin nevertheless earned vindication within her lifetime when in 1932 she placed third in the competition for a painting for the ceiling of the National Theatre, and when she was later commissioned to create the lunette paintings for the foyer at Svenska Teatern.

Eva Törnwall-Collin was quite exceptional in other ways as well.

She had an interest in modernism, taught Rudolf Steiner’s colour theory and was a dedicated anthroposophist. She had seven solo exhibitions and between 1915 and 1981 she participated in numerous group exhibitions in Finland and internationally. This is the first extensive review of her work since her commemorative show at the Taidesalonki gallery in 1983.

The exhibition is produced jointly by Helsinki Art Museum and the Pro Artibus Foundation. Most of the artworks in the show are from the collection of the Pro Artibus Foundation. The exhibition is curated by the foundation’s curator, Dr Juha-Heikki Tihinen.