Sculptor Matti Peltokangas
   
   
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Biography

1952

Born in Virrat, Western Finland. A modest working-class home in a small rural township, father carpenter Eino Peltokangas, mother Lempi (née Mäkinen), homemaker and later gardener. Parents met at the Serlachius paper mill where they both worked. Two older sisters, Raila and Marja-Liisa.

1955

Father’s carpentry shop burns down.

1956

The family moves to Lehdesmäki Hauho, Southern Finland, to a farm with more than a hundred apple trees. Father slaps a knife in his hand and tells him to start making his own toys.

1959

Starts elementary school. Becomes interested in drawing and handicrafts.

1964

Starts senior primary school. Summer job at a carpentry shop, makes falcon cages for local huntsmen.

1966

Is accepted to vocational school in Hämeen­­-linna where he completes his studies as a metal worker and a machinist.  

1969

Gets a job manufacturing plastic tools at the Upo factory in the city of Lahti. Joins the factory’s art club and builds himself an etching press. Attends a graphics course by Tapani Lemminkäinen at the Lito-Lemminkäinen private graphic art school. Befriends various artists there, including Rauno Salminen, Jukka Vikberg, Antero Olin, Antti Salokantele and Jorma Waskinen. Works in the evenings for goldsmith Kalle Kernala making jewelry models and tools.

1971

Does his military service in the Hämeenlinna Garrison as a gunsmith.

1972

Starts to work fulltime for goldsmith Kalle Kernala. Takes part in his first group exhibition: at the gallery of the Lammi Municipal Office, featuring works from Tapani Lemminkäinen (1912 – 1971), who had died the previous year, and his latest students.  

1973

Takes part in the 25th Anniversary Exhibition of the Hämeenlinna Artists’ Association at the Hämeenlinna Art Museum. Takes part in the Annual Exhibition of the Lahti Artists’ Association, first public mention in the Etelä-Suomen Sanomat newspaper (Mika Suvioja): “A newer comer with personality”.

1974

Moves to the city of Hämeenlinna with his future wife, Marja-Leena (née Rantanen) and gets a job at the Hopeakeskus (later Kultakeskus) precious metal company, where he works as a steel engraver. Gets his first studio workspace. Joins the Hämeenlinna Artists’ Association. Continues to work with graphic arts. Gets to know other artists, including Ahti Isomäki, Pertti Kukkonen and Lea Turto. Takes part in the Annual Exhibition of the Hämeenlinna Artists’ Association. Critic Irmeli Paavola scolds him in the Hämeen Sanomat newspaper for a “slack and inexact treatment of the metal plate”. Takes part in a group exhibition organized in connection with a graphic art course by Jorma Waski­nen, at Kesäkisälli, Janakkala. Takes part in the Häme Regional Art Exhibition at the Lahti Art Museum. According to Mika Suv­ioja’s review in the Etelä-Suomen Sanomat newspaper, shows “aspiration towards distinctive and unique expression”.

1975

Takes part in the Annual Exhibition of the Hameenlinna Artists’ Association with his “compact, little works” (Maila Tuominen in the Aamu­lehti newspaper). According to Irmeli Paavola from the Etelä-Suomen Sanomat newspaper, “he hasn’t yet developed the skill to tonally modulate his prints”.

1976

Ahti Isomäki and Lea Turto take his works, without asking for permission, to the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, getting him an invitation to the entrance exams. Takes part in a two-week entrance course. Encouraged by Anita Snellman, also does a demonstration work in painting, in which he ends up accepted. His teachers include Anita Snellman, Erik Granqvist, Timo Aalto, Yrjänä Levanto, Matti Kujasalo, Rafael Wardi, Jaakko Sievänen, Viktor Kuusela and Juho Karjalainen. Takes part in the Häme Regional Art Exhibition; according to an anonymous critic in the Hämeen Kansa newspaper: “even Matti Peltokangas has nothing to be ashamed of”. Takes part for the first time in the Annual Exhibition of the Union of Finnish Art Associations, held at the Tampere Art Museum. Takes part for the first time in the Annual Young Artists Exhibition of the Artists’ Association of Finland. A.I. Routio from the Uusi Suomi newspaper is impressed by “the powerful dusky light of his urban imagery”, while Eeva Siltavuori from the Helsingin Sanomat news­paper praises him for “his skillful romanticizing of lyrical pictures”.

1977

Takes part in the Annual Exhibition of the Union of Finnish Art Associations.

1978

Gets married to Marja-Leena. Their son, Tuomas, is born. They live in Lahti. Takes part for the third and last time in the Annual Exhibition of the Union of Finnish Artist Associations. Takes part for the second and last time in the Annual Young Artists Exhibition. The City of Hämeenlinna acquires for its vocational training center 14 works from 12 members of the Hämeenlinna Artists’ Association, including a print from Peltokangas. Takes part in a group exhibition with Mikko Mikkola and Pertti Kukkonen in the City Hall of Hämeenlinna in connection with the Hämeenlinna Festival. Takes part in the activities of the Järkäle art collective, initiated by Juhani Petäjäniemi, in the former atelier of Finland’s national sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen in Helsinki, where he lives with Petäjäniemi, until the building is demolished somewhat scandalously in 1981. The other actives in the collective included, for example, Antero Toikka, Pekka Kauhanen, Kari Nuutinen, Raili Tang and Olli Kokkonen.    

1979

Switches to sculpture with the support and encouragement of Harry Kivijärvi. Meets Heikki Häiväoja, works as his assistant for about six years. Also works as Kain Tapper’s assistant briefly. Keeps a studio in  downtown Helsinki. Continues to pursue his interests in drawing at, for example, the croquis evenings at Kunst­halle Helsinki. Takes part for the first time in the Annual Exhibition of Finnish Artists. “It somehow feels like the model’s life has stopped also in Matti Peltokangas’ painting Pekka”, remarks A.I. Raunio in the Uusi Suomi newspaper. According to Tapani Kovanen from the Suomen Sosiaali­demokraatti newspaper, Peltokangas does however have “a good grip on his portraits”. Takes part in a collective painting at an art center of the Finnish Adult Education Center of the City of Helsinki, together with students from the University of Art and Design Helsinki. 

1980

His second son, Tuukka, is born. Takes part for the second and last time in the Annual Exhibition of Finnish Artists.      

1981

Gets his degree from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. Moves into a student flat in Helsinki. Starts to make medals and take part in competitions. Purchase of commemorative coin in honor of the Ice Hockey World Championships, I Prize in the Annual Medal Competition of the Guild of Medallic Art in Finland. Accepted as member of the Association of Finnish Sculptors.

1983

Buys a small, old house in the district of Vartiokylä in Helsinki, on the lot of which he later builds his studio home. Takes part in the FIDEM International Art Medal Exhibition in Florence, travels there. Meets there sculptor Heikki Varja, with whom he acquaints himself with Renaissance sculptures. Takes part in the Mitalin uusi kevät (New Spring of Medal Art) group exhibition at the Helsinki City Art Museum. II Prize in sculpture competition for a seafaring memorial in the city of Oulu. II Prize in the Annual Medal Competition of the Guild of Medallic Art in Finland. I Prize in the competition for a memorial for the urn garden in the Kouvola Old Cemetery. The winning entry, figurative bronze-cast Muisto (Memory), is completed the following year. Helps Heikki W. Virolainen to weld a metal sculpture, and Virolainen rewards him with a trip to Egypt, where he becomes acquainted with sculpting in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan.

1984

Father dies. Peltokangas is employed as teacher of plastic composition at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. I Prize in the Annual Medal Competition of the Guild of Medallic Art in Finland. Pays for his house and lot by enlarging and casting into bronze the DIY sculpture by farmer Aarne Hakala-Rahko, the Jussi statue, which is unveiled outside the entrance of the regional business school. Local constructivist painter Seppo-Juhannus Tanninen humorously commented on the visual arts event in a newspaper interview that the sculpture could just as well have been covered by a garbage bag. A police patrol was actually posted by the statue on the night before the unveiling. Later on, the statue was moved to a less conspicuous spot, behind some trees on the school grounds.

1985

Travels to China on a tour organized by the Workers’ Educational Association of Finland. Visits, for example, the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site in Xi’an hosting the terracotta army of more than 7000 soldiers. Takes part in the FIDEM International Art Medal Exhibition in Stockholm.

1986                           

Takes part in the Wanajan äärellä (By Lake Wanaja) group exhibition at the Hämeenlinna Art Museum with his wood sculptures. Makes a crucifix for the Länsi-Pasila Church in Helsinki.

1987 

Takes part in the FIDEM International Art Medal Exhibition in Colorado Springs, USA. Takes part  in the 20th Anniversary Exhibition of the Helsinki Artists’ Association, Hedelmiä (Fruit), in Kunsthalle Helsinki.  

1988

I Prize in the Annual Medal Competition of the Guild of Medallic Art in Finland. Makes a crucifix for the Rekola Church in Vantaa and for the Kerava Church. His first public sculpture of stone, Kevät (Spring), commissioned by the City of Hämeenlinna, is unveiled outside the city’s vocational training center. It is at the time the largest sculpture ever made in Finland of a single block of stone, the red granite block weighing approximately 65 000 kilos. A model was made out of Styrofoam to find a place where the statue could be fitted.  

1989

Gives his first solo exhibition in Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki. His sculpture Kehrä (Spindle), placed in the park outside the gallery, awoke a large amount of positive attention and also discussion on its permanent placement in the park. Erkki Pirtola writes in the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper “With his stone ball, Matti Peltokangas justifies in the Helsinki Plague Park the art of sculpture for a long time to come. It has happily rolled out of gallery slavery. It stops people”. Takes part in the Second International Quadrennial of Medals in Kremnica, Czechoslovakia. The City of Lohja purchases his bronze sculpture, Muoto (Form), which is placed in the park of the Lohja Museum.

1990

Takes part in the exhibition Nach den Regeln der Kunst in Frankfurt organized by the Artists’ Association of Finland. The exhibition is continued the following year in Fulda, Germany, and later in Joensuu, Finland. I Prize in the sculpture competition of the University of Oulu. The winning entry, Yhtyvät säteet (The Uniting Rays), is completed in 1992. Takes part in the FIDEM International Art Medal Art Exhibition in Helsinki.

1992

Makes the work Kasvu (Growth), commissioned by the City of Vantaa for the grounds of a college of social work. Holds a solo exhibition in the Hvitträsk Villa in Kirkkonummi, the exhibition activities of which were long managed by the Association of Finnish Sculptors. Makes as a commissioned work the sculpture Yhtyvät säteet (Uniting Rays) for the ETYK Congress Center in Helsinki.                       

1993

Wins the competition for a memorial to Lauri Kristian Relander, second president of Finland. The winning entry Alhaalta sisään, ylhäältä ulos (From Bottom to Top, from Inside Out) is completed during the following two years on a windy dockside construction site in Vuosaari, Helsinki. The sculpture is unveiled in Töölö, Helsinki in 1996.

1994

Holds an exhibition together with Juhani Harri and Tapani Mikkonen in Galleria Artina, Helsinki. Makes the commissioned work Kallioaurinko (The Rock Sun) for the grounds of the  college of laboratory sciences in Käpylä, Helsinki. Takes part in the group exhibition Kiven heijas­tuksia (Reflections of Stone) organized in Kunsthalle Helsinki by Taide­kiven­veisto/Art Stonework.

1995

Takes part in the Sculptor95 exhibition of the

Association of Finnish Sculptors in Suomenlinna, Helsinki. The Saastamoinen Foundation purchases Kulku (Path), the only work at the exhibition. Takes part in the group exhibition Suhteita (Relationships) at the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

1996

Takes part in the group exhibition Veistoksia Oopperassa (Sculptures at the Opera) of Taidekivenveisto/Art Stonework in Helsinki. Takes part in the competition for a memorial to President Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, is selected to the final round with his two entries, of which the figurative Urkki ja Sylvi, of the President and his wife, wins the audience vote. This eventually leads to a commission in 2007 from the City of Raahe for a sculpture portraying President Kekkonen alone. Peltokangas is candidate for the Ars Fennica Award, the highest art award in Finland.  

1997

Solo exhibition in Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki. Takes part in the summer exhibition Suvi-Pinx in Sysmä. Takes part together with Kari Huhtamo, Jorma Hautala, Hannu Siren and Matti Kujasalo in Outside In, a group exhibition introducing contemporary Finnish art in the Drecht Banks Sculpture Park and the Museum of Modern Art, De Rietgors, travels to the Netherlands to attend. His work Valovarjovalo (Lightshadowlight) is purchased to the sculpture park. Takes part in the international sculpture exhibition Standing Stones in Stockholm.

1998

Takes part in a group exhibition in Galerie Artek, Helsinki, together with Pekka Kauhanen, Jari Juvonen and Kain Tapper.

1999

Takes part in a group exhibition at the Tytyri Mine Gallery in Lohja together with Tapio Junno, Pirkko Nukari, Pekka Pitkänen and Minna Tuominen. II Prize in the Annual Medal Competition of the Guild of Medallic Art in Finland. Makes the Itä-Helsinki Trophy, commissioned by the Federation of Eastern Helsinki Enterprises, Lions Club Eastern Helsinki and the Helsingin uutiset newspaper. The trophy, Jäljenjättäjä (Markmaker), is permanently located in the lobby of the Stoa Cultural Center of Eastern Helsinki. Receives Honorary Award in the 2000 Medal Competition of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

2000

Mother dies. The death of his mother is the underlying theme in his solo exhibition at Galleria Artina, Helsinki. Commissioned by the Guild of Medallic Art in Finland, makes the presidential medal on President Tarja Halonen. Makes the public work Juhlapöytä (Dinner Table) commissioned to the Pitäjämäki district in Helsinki. Later adds to the site also the works Laskos (Curtain, 2001) and Rukouskivi (Prayer Stone, 2002). The site, with its forest church like atmosphere, has ever since hosted various church events. The Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation commissions the sculpture Vuosi 2000 (Year 2000), which is placed in the park of the Mänttä Church. Later it turns out that there used to be a quarry at the site. Takes part in the group exhibition Granitas in the Nissbacka Manor Sculpture Park together with Ukri Merikanto, Matti Nurminen and Laila Pullinen.

2001

Takes part in a group exhibition at the Kerava Art Museum. Takes part in the International Sculpture Symposium in Hangzhou, China. While there, realizes the work Viuhka (Fan), which remains on the site.

2002

Holds a solo exhibition in Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki. Prepares the sculpture Tarrautuminen (Clinging) for the sculpture street in the city of Kotka. Later has to make a new stone ball to replace one that was stolen at night. Local musclemen rolled the stone balls at least that one time down the park street. Makes a bronze bust of Heikki Haavisto as a commissioned work for the Pellervo Confederation of Finnish Cooperatives. Makes a commissioned work of environmental art together with architect Sari Nieminen for the urn garden of the Honka­nummi Cemetery in Vantaa.

2003

Takes part in the summer exhibition of the Salmela Art Center in Mäntyharju. Makes a bronze portrait of President Relander commissioned for the Parliament of Finland. Wins the invitational competition of the Mint of Finland for a commemorative coin in the field of coin art. An edition of 20000 pieces is minted of the coin.

2004

Takes part in the exhibition Neljä taiteilijaa

Keravalla (Four Artists in Kerava) at the Kerava Art Museum, together with Pekka Hepoluhta, Matti Kujasalo and Timo Setälä. Takes part in a group exhibition in the Jyväskylä pedestrian street. The City of Jyväskylä purchases the work Kahden kesken (Two of Us). Makes a bronze portrait relief of sports administration dignitary E.A. Wuokko for the Helsinki Sports Hall.                                    

2005

Holds together with Tapani Mikkonen the exhibition Taidenäyttely (Art Exhibition) at Galleria G in Helsinki, where also a large number of his drawings are featured. Takes part in the Sculptor 2005 exhibition of the Association of Finnish Sculptors at the Salo Art Museum. Holds a solo exhibition at Galleria ORTON, which is connected to the ORTON Orthopaedic Hospital in Helsinki.

2006

Takes part in the summer exhibition Veistosten Töölönlahti (Contemporary Finnish Sculpture in the Töölönlahti Bay Area) of Taide­kivenveisto/Art Stonework in Helsinki. Makes the stone relief Varjo ja aurinko (Shadow and Sun) commissioned for a home for the ageing in the city of Hämeenlinna. Makes the work Kaamos ja aurinko (Darkness and Sun) for businessman and art collector Erkki Heikkinen’s villa in Lapland. The small sculpture park at the edge of a bog also includes works from Pekka Kauhanen and Ukri Merikanto. Makes the memorial Rauhanturvaajien muistomerkki (Memorial to the Peacekeepers) commissioned for the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki. Makes a 100th  anniversary small sculpture commissioned by the Finnish Wrestling Federation.

2007

Takes part in the Norwegian-Finnish sculpture exhibition Kontra in Oslo, travels there.

2008

Takes part in the exhibition Kuvan jälkeen (Image and After) presenting works from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and in the Taabor 08 group sculpture exhibition in Nurmijärvi. The bronze sculpture of President Kekkonen is unveiled in the city of Raahe. 


Works in collections

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Hauho Municipality

City of Kotka

City of Jyväskylä

Kerava Congregation

Helsinki City Art Museum

Oulu Art Museum

OKO Bank Art Foundation

Lohja Art Museum

State of Finland

Wihuri Foundation/Rovaniemi Art Museum

Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation, Mänttä

Saastamoinen Foundation/EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku

Kerava Art Foundation

National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, Helsinki 

Collections of Henna and Pertti Niemistö/Hämeenlinna Art Museum

Kerava Art Museum