Culture

Scandinavian artists to know – here's 7 affordable artworks to hang on your walls

By Linnéa Pesonen

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Photo: Getty

If you're looking to give your interiors a fresh look, these 7 up-and-coming Nordic artists are a great place to start

Pablo Picasso once said, "the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." Having art in your home can make a big difference, not only as a straightforward way to update your space, it also helps bring more life into your home (and onto your walls). Whether it is a painting, drawing, or sculpture, through a work of art, you can sense the craftsmanship and effort involved in its' creation.

While buying art can sometimes require a considerable investment, the work of the artists we've rounded up is accessible, so is a great way to kick off your collection. New artists, who enter the industry with lower prices, are frequently emerging in the Nordic art scene, while some of the more established artists have decided against raising the cost of their work, which is good news for newbie collectors.

"If you're looking to buy Scandinavian art at an affordable price, I recommend exploring the work of up-and-coming artists and fresh art school graduates," says Hanna Huitu, an art curator at Helsinki's Galerie Anhava. "Many galleries represent these budding artists, so the best way to examine and buy their work is by visiting their exhibitions."

But if you're unsure of where to start, with input from galleries representing rising and established artists across the Nordics, here's our spotlight on 7 individuals whose work you need to know:

1

Essi Kuokkanen

31-year-old Finnish artist Essi Kuokkanen's work explores sensitivity, introspection and sympathy. Her paintings tend to exude melancholy – with figures with downcast gazes appear deep in their thoughts, filling the viewer's minds with existential reflection. Examining and questioning our world and its norms through surreal imagery, Kuokkanen's work gives nature and everyday objects an uncanny human feel. And just last year, Kuokkanen's work was even chosen for the ARS22 exhibition at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki.

2

Nes Lerpa

Being the son of Danish painter Ejner R. Kragh, Copenhagen-based painter and ceramicist Nes Lerpa was introduced to art from a young age. Making his debut at 18-years-old, Lerpa, who is now 80, has since developed a distinct style from his father’s, expressing himself through various creative approaches, including everything from painting and ceramics to music and scenography. Lerpa’s burning passion for making art manifests especially in his paintings which burst with vibrant colours and abstract shapes.

3

Anna Tuori

46-year-old Finnish painter Anna Tuori is fascinated by the ‘Das Unheimliche’ or ‘uncanny’ concept, signifying the point where the familiar starts to become a little strange. Tuori’s paintings often create a utopian, dreamlike world; the longer you gaze at her work, the more you’ll slowly begin to see. Although the figures appearing in her paintings are almost recognisable, Tuori’s artwork leaves room for the viewer’s imagination and mind to roam, and in a way, create a portrait of the human mind.

4

Stephan Nilsson

Based in the quaint seaside town of Frillesås, Sweden, painter Stephan Nilsson’s abstract work is created with very few artistic constraints. Instead, the artist likes to rely on his emotions, allowing them to guide him as he creates his dreamy, candy-coloured paintings. Painting with acrylics, Nilsson often draws his inspiration from his walks out in nature where he can observe the array of colours which blend together, creating a serene landscape often seen in his work.

5

Espen Kvålsvoll

Norwegian artist Espen Kvålsvoll graduated from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in 2019. Since then, the 30-year-old has displayed his artwork at various galleries across the Norwegian capital, and the artist is currently exhibiting at Oslo's Van Etten Gallery. Using a post-impressionist technique and a post-modern approach to visual material, Kvålsvoll acquires motifs drawn from urban landscape, architecture, nature, and art history from various eras. Through brushwork, Kvålsvoll forms them into arrangements of psychedelic figures and patterns, creating a new universe from old motifs taken out of their context.

6

Klara Lilja

Danish contemporary ceramicist Klara Lilja draws inspiration from the supernatural world of mythology and the occult, alongside comics, video games and her treasured childhood memories. The result? Eccentric, dreamy clay sculptures resembling objects that look as if they might pop up in one's dreams (or perhaps nightmares) and outlandish alternative universes. To give her sculptures the wet look, the 33-year-old artist uses experimental glazing techniques. You can see Lilja's work now at Clay Keramikmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen.

7

Sara-Vide Ericson

Describing herself as a “hunter-gatherer painter”, Swedish Sara-Vide Ericson’s artwork examines how humans interact with nature. The 39-year-old artist’s mystical and realistic paintings often take their cues from her adventures in the surroundings of her home in Hälsingland, Sweden, which she documents on her camera. Ericson studied at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and has since then had multiple exhibitions across the Nordics, as well as in New York, Paris and Berlin.