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Eat & Eye − An exhibition on food, table settings and meals

Eat & Eye by Riihimäki Art Museum is a collective exhibition that focuses on food, table settings and meals. The exhibition demonstrates the ways in which various artists have interpreted these themes and their relationship with food and dining, encouraging visitors to inspect the works from new and even surprising perspectives.

The name of the exhibition could have come from a modern restaurant: Eat & Eye. It represents a type of menu or setting with different works from the collections of Riihimäki Art Museum that are related to food, meals and table settings.

The exhibition invites visitors to explore and ponder how and why the artists have depicted their chosen meals and food items, as well as the ingredients used in their creation. Short snippets provide glimpses into the role that their chosen food items and meals played in their lives and artistic efforts.

Art is a feast for the eyes, and the right type of nourishment is good for your soul as well as your eyes. For the artists, there can be no alternatives: one needs to both eat and create. Meals consisting of meagre and humble ingredients, such as Tyko Sallinen’s Herring Arrangement, speak volumes about the poverty faced by budding and starving artists. Jalmari Ruokokoski painted works featuring fishes that he bought from the market square, which were then turned into his family’s suppertime meal. Marcus Collin’s Crayfish Arrangement is a story of abundance – or perhaps it is a reference to the crayfish parties that have remained popular in the Nordic countries.  Fruit and vegetables were often included in arrangements when the goal was to create something beautiful, attractive and commercial. These works were considered appropriate for display in most homes, as they depicted something familiar and easily approachable. Hanging game birds, mushrooms and whole fishes spoke volumes about the everyday meals enjoyed by people of all walks of life.

The works in the exhibition finely tread the line between beauty and decay, the circle of life, and the various meanings we attach to different colours. Themes that seem simple at first may soon reveal completely new sides to them. In their works, the artists experiment with colours, forms and arrangements – but they also reveal much more. Upon closer inspection, they depict many layers of meaning as well as symbolic clues and keys to various interpretations and references to the long and storied history of arrangements and paintings of meals. The exhibition invites us to ponder the age-old question: can these works be more than the fruit, vegetables and meals that we see in front of us? Or are they all truly about cabbages, carrots, apples, mushrooms, fishes and game birds?

What may seem pleasing to the eye in a painting may not taste good or even be edible. Although the exhibition may not whet your appetite, it is sure to provide new perspectives and ways to examine themes related to food and meals that you might not normally notice in your everyday life.

The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, porcelain objects, pewter dishes and other items from the collections of Riihimäki Art Museum. The exhibition features works from artists such as Tyko Sallinen, Helene Schjerfbeck, Jalmari Ruokokoski, Ester Helenius, Arvo Makkonen, Ellen Thesleff, Venny Soldan-Brofelt, Mikko Carlstedt, Ingrid Ruin, Mikko Oinonen, Väinö Hervo, Ilmari Aalto, Tuomas von Boehm, and many others.