Sinikka Mirjam Kurkinen

b. 1935, Joutseno
Residence: Imatra

Contact information

Phone number: 040 7304771

Artist’s Statement


Sinikka Kurkinen (b. 1935) is one of the classics of contemporary Finnish painting. She has forged a long career, focusing determinedly on the study of colour and light. The colour is usually spread smoothly, the well-defined surfaces glow with, at times, bright and brilliant, at others mystic, dark light.

The clear-cut boundaries of the surfaces recall the clarity of Japanese woodcuts but Kurkinen’s work is on an altogether different scale. The richness of the juxtaposed colours and the deliberately ornamental approach take the viewer’s thoughts to the Orient, yet the atmosphere of the paintings also breathes Nordic coolness.

Sinikka Kurkinen’s dazzling colourism is quite unusual in Finnish art. Her teacher, Academician Sam Vanni (1908–1992), who also was quite an exceptional colourist, recognised the special quality of Kurkinen’s art and he is known to have regarded her as his most promising student. Compared with the concretism of Vanni, who was educated in France, Kurkinen’s paintings have a more transparent, light-footed quality. The feeling they exude is very feminine.

Sinikka Kurkinen’s art is characterised by the expressiveness of black surfaces. The black in her paintings is deep and engaging, musical. Indeed, her paintings convey a feeling of music in other ways, too. They also mirror states of mind as much as they constitute concrete poetry of painted surfaces. Her colour schemes and execution can also be seen to contain hints of the Byzantine tradition, the natural source and background for which is her birthplace close to the Russian border.

Apart from her student days, Sinikka Kurkinen has lived and worked in Imatra, South Karelia. Her Karelian roots have bound her tightly to her home region. She belongs to the generation of artists who had to begin their careers in the impoverished post-war years in Finland. Women especially found it difficult to gain a foothold in the centre of the art scene. Describing herself as shy, Sinikka Kurkinen saw as her only alternative to return to Karelia and engross herself in painting in a place where there was at least room and peace for work and where eastern Finnish landscapes and culture provided an inherent resource.

Soili Sinisalo
Museum Director Emerita