Arto Korhonen

SO GAY

8.6.2022 — 3.7.2022

Open

Tue, Thu, Fri 11-5pm, Wed 11-6pm
Sat 11-4pm, Sun 12-4pm
Closed 24.6.-26.6.

I decided to exhibit my gay themed works from recent years, along with some new pieces. Equality celebrating Helsinki Pride Week takes place simultaneously with my exhibition from June 27th until July 3rd.

When I was young there was not much discussion about sexual and gender minorities. As my own identity began to unfold to myself, the sense of disparity along with loneliness in dealing with those emotions was strong. There were hardly any public gay figures to come out publicly, nor were there any role models. Being gay was odd and something to be ashamed of. The only gay celebrities in Finland that I can recall were the make-up artist and hairdresser Monsieur Mosse, who was fiercely chased by media. The gayness of painter Reidar Särestöniemi was treated in a more neutral manner. For me the first international figure to appear in positive light and to rise my self-esteem was the androgynous figure of David Bowie. A little later came the rock band Queen with Freddy Mercury. Their sexual orientation was allusive, yet clear.

I want to thank those super brave people, who have dared to expose their character for public discussion in times when the existence of sexual minorities has been unfamiliar and uneasy for the majority.

We live in a different world now. Many countries do not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, yet there are still places where sexual minorities are criminalized and condemned. Tolerance grows in the western world and it’s easier for people to accept themselves, to lead a lifestyle of their own choice, to enrich and add diversity to the lives of all. People from different fields of life come out and there are plenty of inspiring role models. Disparity normalizes and despite the differences people are seen as people. Yet it can be still be difficult to many, depending on their environment. Acceptance takes time and as the world has shown, it can also be lost quickly. The cause of the minorities must be kept visible. I wish that no one would need courage to be openly themselves when interacting with others.

This exhibition consists of works from several years, themes varying from easy to more serious. The works exhibited include figurative, abstract, watercolors based on text as well as a video work.

The exhibition is part of Helsinki Pride Week program.

Arto Korhonen

Translation by Anna Eloaho

 

Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Finnish Cultural Foundation have supported the exhibition.