VEXI SALMI AND FRIENDS – selected works from the Vexi Salmi Art Collection
25 November 2022– 22 October 2023
Finnish lyricist, record producer and author Veikko Olavi “Vexi” Salmi (21 September 1942, Hämeenlinna–8 September 2020, Helsinki) amassed a significant art collection during his lifetime. In 2010, he and his partner Katri Wanner-Salmi donated the collection to the city where he was born and to the city’s art museum. The 21st of September 2022 marked the 80th anniversary of Vexi Salmi’s birth. Hämeenlinna Art Museum has chosen to celebrate this occasion with a memorial exhibition featuring an extensive selection of works from the Vexi Salmi and Katri Wanner-Salmi collection.
Although best known in Finland for his creative output, including the thousands of song lyrics he wrote, Vexi Salmi was also a passionate art collector and connoisseur. “My artworks are my friends,” he is known to have said. Although his acquisitions were often made on impulse, he was always guided by his exhaustive knowledge of art and a sense of emotional connection with the work in question. Salmi struck up close and enduring friendships with many artists in the course of his collecting career, notably Juhani Harri and Jorma Hautala.
Sculptor Kari Cavénhas created a series of new works for the memorial exhibition. These are made using matchbox labels, an early collecting interest of Salmi’s. The exhibition also features the final addition to his art collection, an assemblage by Ismo Kajander, along with works by many other artists including Juhana Blomstedt, Cris af Enehielm, Outi Heiskanen, Heli Hiltunen, Jani Hänninen, Pekka Kauhanen, Pertti Kekarainen, Anne Koskinen, Leonhard Lapin, Rosa Liksom, Leena Luostarinen, Mauno Markkula, Ukri Merikanto, Tapani Mikkonen, Olavi Pajulahti, Tapani Raittila, Raimo Reinikainen, Janne Räisänen, Antti Tanttu, Marjatta Tapiola and Viggo Wallensköld.
Vexi Salmi and Friends offers a comprehensive insight into Vexi Salmi’s life and work, showcasing personal items and excerpts from his literary works. It demonstrates his love of collecting and the thirst for knowledge which characterised him even as a child. The exhibition’s themes, including curiosity, playfulness, life and ephemerality, and compassion and understanding for humanity, reflect his interests and persona.
The Vexi Salmi Art Collection is made up of more than 550 artworks or series amounting to in excess of 700 individual works. As a collector, Vexi Salmi was particularly interested in Finnish, Estonian and Nordic contemporary art with an additional focus on interwar German expressionism, once branded “degenerate art”. A selection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures have been chosen for this memorial exhibition, which, in total, comprises 160 artworks by 52 artists.
This is not the first time works from the Katri Wanner-Salmi and Vexi Salmi collection have gone on display here in Hämeenlinna and in other museums. In Hämeenlinna, past exhibitions include A Passion for Art – the Vexi Salmi Art Collection (2005), The Heart of a Collector – works from the Henna and Pertti Niemistö Contemporary Art Collection and Vexi Salmi Collection (2008–2009), In the Horizon – new acquisitions in the Vexi Salmi Collection (2010–2011) and Degenerate Art – selected works of German expressionism from the Vexi Salmi Collection (2017–2018). Further exhibitions have also been held in Rauma (2011), Lahti (2014), Lappeenranta (2016) and Kajaani (2018).
This exhibition will be complemented by tours led by his partner, Katri Wanner-Salmi and by artists and gallerists who knew Vexi Salmi personally. They are an opportunity to hear more about the artworks in the Vexi Salmi collection and offer a unique insight into the man himself and his deeply held love of art. The tours are offered in Finnish.