Kari Laitinen

Basic information

b. 1952, Siilinjärvi
Visual Artist, Graphic Artist/Printmaker
Residence: Helsinki

Contact information

Artist’s Statement

How could we step through a door-way if it is not a void? A locked door will awake our curiosity- what might be there behind a door.
Empty paper, canvas or space seems to include similar unlimited possibilities.
In 1981, I became acquainted with Japanese culture through the exhibition Ma Time-Space in Japan
organised by Helsinki City Art Museum. The exhibition showed how the coincidental conceptualization of time and space is the most important element that distinguishes Japan´ artistic expression from the West.

Time and space were not measured by different serialization.
Rather, in Japan, both space nad time have been measured in terms of intervals.

There are various interpretations of the MA concept but it is not possible to describe this term fully here. The most important matter for me was to realize the void around object.
Emptiness or void has an important role in Eastern culture, as this concept relates to how phenomena and environments are observed.
Our western culture perceives surroundings by an object, but in Japan, such concepts on the perception of the void can have many levels of meaning.

I have grown to believe that in Finland, our synonym for the void could be the silence in our outdoor nature. I have experienced time and space as a challenge and such deep concept continuously gives me more and new levels for artistic expression.

The message of my art works could be describe as visual questions of time and space. I call the images and art that I make “objects of silence”, which is meant to offer an opposite response today’s hectic and materialistic way of life.

In today´s busy life, an intimate space loses its clarity, while exterior space loses its void, unfortunately, the void being raw materials of the possibility of being. We are banished from the realm possibility.

Kari Laitinen


Void –in villages and towns, in houses and objects, Tapio Periäinen , Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä, 1998, ISBN 951-664-014-1.

The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard, Boston, 1994, ISBN 0-8070-6473-4,
(First published in French under the title “La poétique de l´espace” , 1958.
Show biography



Kari Laitinen born 1952.
Lives and works in Helsinki.

His main subjects are woodblock printmaking in both western and Japanese techniques, painting, photograph and mixed media. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1980, is a practicing printmaker and had regularly exhibited one-man-shows in Finland since 1982. He has taken part in international Biennials and Triennials in Brazil, Finland, Germany, Japan, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland and USA. He had also been regularly represented in Finnish art exhibitions throughout Europe.

He has worked at University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH since 1985 as a part-time teacher, Researcher and Lecturer of the School of Visual Culture / Graphic laboratory. He is continuing
as a Senior Lecturer / Head of Printmaking and Researcher at Aalto University, School of Arts and Design and Architecture, Department of Art / Printmaking Studios (1.1. 2010−31.12. 2017)

His material research “Alternative Block Materials for Japanese Watercolor Woodcut” completed
2013. Positive result of this research offers new block materials for Japanese method here in Europe.

He has received honorable mentions at VII Biennale Internationale de la Gravure sur Bois, Banská Bystrica, Czechoslovakia 1982 and Biennale Balticum, Finland 1985. In 1984, he was rewarded with the 2nd prize at a printmaking competition organized by the State of Finland. His prints are represented at several private and public collections, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Ministries and Embassies of Finland, the Finnish Parliament collections, the Bank of Finland, Albertina Museum / Printmaking Collection, Wienna, Austria.

He is one author of the lecture book The Art and Craft of Woodblock Printmaking, Woodblock printmaking with oil-based inks and the Japanese watercolor woodcut; Kari Laitinen, Tuula Moilanen, Antti Tanttu, Publication series of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH, published first in Finnish 1999 and in English 2001, 2013 (second edition).

He has held many official positions since 1985, first as a cabinet member and then as a chair the Association of Finnish Printmakers 1990−91; vice chairman at Artists' Association of Finland (AAF) 1988−1989; a chair of the board at “Taide” Art Magazine Publishing Company Ltd., 1990−1991; a member of the State Art Committee 1996−1999; A chair of organizing committee, the 2nd IMPACT International Printmaking Conference at the University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH, 2001.
He has taken part also international conferences in England, Scotland, Germany/Poland, Estonia, Japan, USA and China.
Chair of organizing committee for the 1st MOKUHANGA International Conference, Kyoto and Awaji, in Japan 2011. Vice Chair of organizing committee for the 2nd MOKUHANGA International Printmaking Conference, Tokyo in Japan, www.mokuhanga.jp.
Member of advisory board
in 3rd MOKUHANGA conference in Honolulu Hawaii, 2017.