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”Does the poor wretch peering from the depths of his misery even realize that the forefather looking down upon him is stifling a laugh at the very sight of the miserable imitator? There they are, up high, those devious forefathers, residing on the slopes of limbo, each in his private lair.” – Hannu Väisänen, Esi-isät (The Ancestors).


Hannu Väisänen’s new collection of short stories Esi-isät (The Ancestors) is the first of his self-authored books that he has also illustrated. His latest exhibition to open in Galerie Forsblom’s studio presents a selection of the original illustrations, which depict an endearingly quirky gallery of forefathers who occupy an oddball world somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Published by Otava, the book will have its official launch in conjunction with the opening.


Painted on paper, the illustrations mark a new departure for Väisänen, being purely figurative in style. The outrageously humorous stories and freely composed illustrations were created side by side, each in turn feeding off and providing inspiration for the other. The cross-fertilization between words and images is more apparent than ever in Väisänen’s recent work, but the paintings still stand as independent pieces, all featuring Väisänen’s signature bubble patterns – which he describes as “frogspawn” – and his typical contrasts between bright hues and graphic traces of ink. The paintings convey his deep fascination for all things human, which he interprets with imaginative exuberance and warm humor.


Väisänen (b. 1951) is a multitalented artist who moves effortlessly between various creative roles including painter, writer, stage set designer, costume designer, director, illustrator and illustrator. His art is found in numerous major Finnish collections and he has been commissioned to produce public works both in Helsinki and Oulu. The prizewinning artist is the winner of the State award for visual art and the Finlandia prize for literature in 2007 as well as the State award for literature in 2015. Väisänen lives and works in the south of France.

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