Art exhibition – The painting collection used in Altogame

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Magicians of the north / Curators: Henna Aho, Ville Laaksonen

There is a myth of crazy people living in silence of dark forests. They are connected to the nature in a mystical way. It makes them stubborn to learn – and resist strong like vikings. There is a truth in this worth hearing out.

“Magicians of the North” exhibition presents 8 emerging contemporary painters from Finland whose works form a unique genre of painting. Working with individual and highly authentic styles their works are not about some conceptual thrill of a new style, or fashion. They simply think through painting and have the guts to present their own alternative way to approach globally dominant tendencies. This resistance is a glocal issue.

Who is ignorant, if not he who thinks he knows the way things are? There is a doubt in wilderness that civilised people living in skyscrapers should experience. Taking ones nose out of the book is healthy. To take the path in the forest is not to wonder in the nature: one must go away from the route to be on the right track to deeper knowledge.

One truth is not really popular nowadays. We have to accept there are many truths to be believed in. Faith in self is the strongest statement one can make, no matter how one defines God. Serious humour makes one cry in joy.

To answer the question you probably all are wondering. No. We don’t have polar bears running in the streets. Not even on a zoo. Just some reindeers in the north. That’s a fact.


 MATTI VAINIO (b. 1978)

Home Sweet Home, 244x244cm, ink on paper, 2012, 5000 e
Father and Son, 100x89cm , acrylic on canvas, 2013, 1900 e
Streetview, 145x200cm, oil on canvas, 2012, 3500 e
Last Croissant, Colorpencils and watercolor on paper, 76x56cm, 2013, 1300 e


Matti Vainio works with figurative drawings and paintings interpret human emotions and physical actions. His art begins as a voyage through experimental mix of methods, scaling from thin line drawings to the puddles of paint, which each have technical narrative from art historical point of view. The line is shifting through large variety of interpretations of virtuosity, applying this inspiration spontaneously in his works. Yet, historical study and means to create art serve only as starting point for his work.

Continuing further on reveals Vainio’s tremendous insight to preserve human life. He is on a journey to the mysteries of human life – a world captured in the intense presence in gazes and gestures, continued on the furrows of the human faces. Remarkable accuracy closes the gap between times – bringing it here, and reminding of the delight in which human condition has been presented so many times before, in historical masterpieces.

Vainio moves discussion of humanity through time and space, through anomalies of mind and body, returning this experience back to now. Deconstructing the experience opens dialogue with possibilities: at the same time reflecting the self and gaining wider range of possible horizons to capture. Perspective of an outsider sees human body as a machine of bone and muscle, shamed and alienated by the human inequality. Authenticity is a Trojan horse, in odyssey search of dreams and utopia – recognizing the other in self.

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 MIA SAHARLA (b. 1983)

From the series Absence (Portrait Studies), Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, 2013, 900 e
Map, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 24 x 30 cm, 2014, 540 e
Plant, Oil and spray on canvas, 41 x 33 cm, 2014, 740 e
Plant, Oil and spray on canvas , 40 x 40 cm, 2014, 800 e


Mia Saharla’s art comes with an unique way of relating – being in contact to existential delicacy – subtle transitions of matter – like losing matter – gentle markings forming a physical dialogue – on the painting canvas – capturing the presence of flowers – moments in silence – spent with the canvas as a shroud – the transparent contact – and the body.

Working with narrative process of the painting – painting proposes the next one – joy spreads like a trance – apparent point of action – in a movement within immateriality – losing borders – like dashes in the snow – themes that relate to absence – and presence – process of remembering – what has been important lately?

The process itself – accidents and intentions – face each other.

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No 01113, Mixed media on veneer, 244 x 244 cm, 2013, 5000 e
No 010114, Mixed media on veneer, 244 x 356 cm, 2014, 7000 e
No 030214, Mixed media on veneer, 244 x 244 cm, 2014, 5000 e
No 010510, Mixed media on veneer, 240 x 356 cm, 2010, 7000 e


Saija Kivikangas is a painter whose minimalist works are not giving an easy narrative. Her method is really physical: like hammering paint on a wooden surface. She is not interested of pre-existing qualities of modernistic or historical entities, but rather tracing back the contemplative chain of events, and the process of creation; from the end into the origin. That is, when painting declares to be bigger than the artist.

Art is a natural way to “speak” about existence and experiences related to it. Encountering the moment of realization, like a magical blink of emotion crashing in the painting, feels like facing the presence of connection with “the other”. It doesn’t matter what the subjective of the communication is about: whether we are discussing about painting, human, nature, whatever. Certain things shouldn’t be translated into words.

Kivikangas is working with both theoretical and philosophical keys, like astronomy and mathematics, to proceed to contemplation. Her themes minimalize to physical body awareness: a combinations of color and form; originating from the spinal cord of human being. This Vitruvian interpretation of presenting humanity intrigues the mind: body as the center of the universe. It breaches out to building blocks of the beginning, vanishing the process that has lost it ́s meaning: when painting is ready.

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Night Composition, Oil and acrylics on canvas, 89x110cm, 2011, 1900 e
Miemala, Oil and acrylics on canvas, 86x120cm, 2013, 2000 e
Harpy II, Oil and acrylics on canvas, 70x86cm, 2012, 1500 e
Shelter in a Scenery, Oil and acrylics on canvas 89x120cm, 2010, 2000 e


Salla Laurinolli is a contemporary naturalism oriented painter, whose works originate from a strong sense of significance and harmony. Her starting point for a painting is realistic observation of an actual place, seeing the place as it is. Seeing leads to think there is a clue of some certain purpose to create a painting of a place. At first sight question is about something that seems like a rather modest, realistic painting.

Further on, the landscapes and places in perfect form, there is a disturbing feeling of something missing completely. Something is lacking to make sense to the scenery, even despite the delicate method of painting. With out the presence of humans, the openness and the feeling of emptiness makes wonder, how these variations from the observations create a space to consider alternative realities – like a trip to the ageless places in life – that have always been and always will. Seeing the place is not enough.

Nature, in it ́s so very quiet ways, hides it ́s purpose as the place for being. Traces of light and empty human surroundings distract from noticing the obvious. You are being alone. Earth is a miraculous creation and of unknown origin. Earthly colors act in discrete relation to the form and function. In this context that is something that makes one feel humble, time after time concretely reminding to work also with subtle thoughts. It is so easy to get distracted by the flashing and blinking of the world.

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Waves, Mixed media on canvas, 150x160cm, 2014, 3700 e
Gestures 2, Oil on canvas, 135x200cm, 2014, 4200 e
A Girl With A Pony Tale, Acrylic, pencil and spray on paper mounted canvas, 224x169cm, 2014, 4700 e
Balls, Oil on canvas, 90x126cm, 2014, 2600 e


Men are often considered less emotional than women. Yet this is a myth that Sami Korkiakoski is ready to declare busted. His change-making paintings resonate an overwhelming amount of emotional capacity of a man. He who is ready to risk everything to speak the truth without any hesitation presents his true art in the same way.

Korkiakoski’s vulgar display of power to love is a remedy to those who are not ready to express themselves. To those who are cautiously concealing their humanity, scarred by emotional trauma, ready (?) to be ripped open. And ripping is exactly what Korkiakoski ́s work does. His art cries out that it does not matter whether you are a man or a woman, it does not matter who you are – you have the right to your emotions and the right to express them. What you are feeling cannot be false. It is true. It is honest. And Korkiakoski’s art presents these true and honest feelings totally uncensored.

Korkiakoski ́s works do not propose that it is easy to be emotional and sensitive, and that all is about the power to love. He also discloses a street fighter who knows how to hate. His art is not about being sophisticated or discrete. Far from it. It is about letting the amount of feeling demonstrate the actual meaning of being emotional and sensitive.

Opportunities to establish deeper meanings often come with an emotional shift – and an element of surprise. Is there something concealed inside us? Are there deeper feelings we are ready to accept and set free? What is hidden beneath the layers of paint?

“Paint is everywhere, on my nose, arms and hair. I scrub my hands and other places with soap. Lathering will help it all come off. Cleaning under my nails is difficult. The most arduous of places to remove it is from a painting, but still it must be tried.”

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Disguised, Oil on canvas, 120x150cm, 2012, 2900€
Rodent II, Oil on canvas, 98x69cm, 2012, 1900€
Safe distance, Oil on canvas, 120x135cm, 2010, 2400€
Still life with crows, Oil on canvas, 100x65cm, 2011, 1900€


Image quality of painting is like an animal, captured by the media and culture. Therefore it’s quality as a work of art is easily run over and squashed like a dead rabbit on a highway.

Sini Anttila-Rodriguez digs in deep into ways in which culture is defining our post-modern life. Her figurative paintings handle subject matter originating from phenomenon’s of popular culture and in larger context quoting media given perspective of the world order; re-evaluating these overwhelming industries of image processing in form of paintings. Painting as a contradiction to the everyday images is lacking the power of spreading like virus: the essence of painting doesn’t travel through, as it is not so much about the image, but facing the actual work of art as an object, redefining the space.

Anttila’s latest works handle images gathered from news pictures of animals in media. She collected these pictures and together they formed a strange series of pictures on the wall of her studio – place where reality begins to make weird sense in a more wondrous ways – like an imaginarium, where new meanings break free from it ́s calm and bitter origins. Cabinet of curiosities transforms the everyday normal to subject of wondering the standards of realities.

Anttila’s paintings could very well fit to some bizarre postmodern wunderkammer. The animals are not wild in a sense of meeting an actual animal. Rather, they clearly seem to be a product of human creativity, captured and tamed by the purposes of media to serve a purpose, which has in many cases very little to do with what being an animal is about. The animal figure is a recurring, but depictions of animals are more about how people observe their relationship to nature – media – and reality. It is surreal how we value one thing and belittle another, missing the point of how magical reality is.

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 TYKO ELO (b. 1974)

Muller save the goal, Silicone and oil on board, 52 x 73 cm, 2012, 1625 e
Kraft, Acryl paste, silicone and oil on uretan board, 60×50 cm, 2008, 1430 e
Orthodox, Acryl paste, silicon and oil on wood veneer, 174×244, 2011, 4200 e
Rubusto habitus: Wednesday / Olli, Acrylic paste, silicone and oil on uretan board, 75x55dm, 2008, 1690 e


Daring concept of Tyko Elo ́s work is to create works of art by means in which educated people wouldn’t dare to dream of taking part of. Taking seriously uncommon materials to painting, his works are established part of the Finnish DIY-cultural movement (Do It Yourself).

DIY thinking in larger context has much to do about setting your own limit ́s to creativity, instead of applying ready made solutions – and it ́s (still) a big thing – all though the trend of fauvism like crude forms of art brut and ad hoc are passing sideline in the art world that is always on the move.

Elo is working with materiality of a sculpture, applied to paintings. He extends painting to thick layers and huge amounts of plaster – scraping the surface. He goes wild with painting, like he was working on a broken wall that needs repairing – leaving the beauty of rough hand made work to see; to underline the proud and independent form of thinking it yourself.

In contemporary Finnish art world, the mental origin of self-made formats is a key factor to serious discussion on the nature of avant-garde thinking. It comes within the culture to present thinking that comes with profane understanding of the geological fact: Finland is not the centerpiece of art world. If you were not in the map – why would you try to walk the path? And this means total liberty.

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Hoffmann`s stretch, 132 cm x 120 cm, oil on mdf-board, 2013, 2500 e
Bad offerings, 80 cm x 60 cm, oil on canvas, 2013, 1400 e
Bird of good mood, 80 cm x 60 cm, oil on canvas, 2012, 1400 e
Discovery, 100 cm x 80 cm, oil on canvas, 2013, 1800 e


Ville-Veikko Viikilä’s paintings not only tell stories, but they create a vortex of universal dwelling through space and time – where mythology joins the future. In a heartbeat of the generation everything adds up. Layer after an another, being alternative comes today more and more about embracing positivity: humor. Understanding the satire of today requires direct contact with the history of going against the mainstream.

Combining genres of recent cultural underground movements of last forty years seem a nostalgic effort, which relates widely with the underground music culture. Undermined parts of culture relate to position of painting on praise of new medias – becoming the mainstream of contemporary art. Viikiläs paintings are conceived by the embrace of alternative cultures such as new wave punk, flow of the hiphop: fused with psychedelic visions of progressive jazz. Doing this in new forms tastes like a fusion of paint, served on top of a vinyl platter.

Painting is a possibility to present non-real and extended reality, which is driven beyond the concrete limit ́s of daily pulp. Art is a vessel to take an unbelievable trip to worlds that doesn’t exist, and Viikilä shares this possibility through remarkable bending of the painting medium to tell stories of places and figures of men – meeting mythology in present day like a businessman’s lunch in the middle of serious art world of wriggled faced men. Trying too hard to convince supreme themes and forms; it is so passé! Art is just about the trip and ideas that grows inside.

“it ́s like a mix-tape, collected of the random elements of my brain and soul. It sparks moments of emotional presence with a sound of the past – presence of epic portions of story to tell.”

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 HENNA AHO (b. 1977)

Swamp III, Acrylic, oil and collage on canvas, 180×180, 2014, 3600 e
Free Radicals, Acrylic, pencil and collage on canvas, 200×140, 2014, 3400 e
Swamp I, Acrylic and collage on canvas, 200×200, 2014, 4000 e
Play for piano, Acrylic on collage on canvas, 200×200, 2014, 4000 e


Henna Aho ́s handwriting in painting leaves traces of close encounter. Reaching further from this includes the obvious choice of following the sketch, but the other possibility that Aho chooses to go with is daring. Her works continue the tradition of collage, using paintings only as material. Running with scissors she throws herself into the process, abandoning the limits of empty canvas and giving room for not-known side of things to come. Her works are a result of an improvised adventure in artistic utopia – leading to ecstatic liberation from the chains of the “real world”.

Aho ́s excessive approach to paint with scissors comes from her years of working in the world of fashion and design, as a fashion designer and an art director for magazines. Attacking canvas with scissors and cutting knife, she chooses to mutilate superficial qualities with academic precision of a doctoral candidate. Her academic background explains the method of carefully collecting the contents and analysing the “waste material” of painting productions – piling up in a quasi-scientific test laboratory. Gentle markings on the canvas work like sketches, but are also determinately destroyed in spontaneous work of a designer selecting patterns and making the final cut.

Deliberate intention to challenge painting as a format comes with a sense of harmony. Arranging random, even chaotic elements, Aho ́s work has deep understanding of what painting is about and joining this with visionary touch of a designer; creating mind pulsating compositions. Elements in her works represent building material of existence. Determining the safe and known things, loaded with a sense of mystery, the result hangs in-between controlled and unbalanced. Even though the uncertainty – and because of it – art is never out of fashion.

(Aho also works as a curator of the Altogame gallery. )

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Reflecting The Truth, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 200 x 230, 2014, 5100 e
Rave On Rothko, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 230 x 200, 2014, 5100 e
Why You Cant See The Other Side, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 170×140, 2014, 3700 e
Young At Heart, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 180 x 150, 2014, 3900 e


Ville Laaksonen works with context of spirituality mostly with contemporary paintings. Esoteric approach of opening gates, doors and windows to visualise heaven and hell on earth reveals signs of believe, but not regarding any certain religious dogma. his idealistic quality as an artists has more to do with an aesthetic view on life. Through the vision of an idealist his focus is in defining beauty – as a theoretical and visual element that effects our life. While embracing spirituality – life reveals it ́s significance with unique and delicate ways. his silent form of avant-garde doesn’t blink, shout or cry for attention – it just is.

Laaksonen redefines rules of harmony by presenting destructive elements with profound consttitutions of art: joining opposite forces of to create illusion of freedom. Improvisation and search for authenticity – virtue of presenting live art in stead of something that is settled down to rules and labels. He ́s idealism requires no proof but blind faith as a guide and true believe as the ever growing goal to reach the state that can be described holy – socially uninterested to bother with every day politics.

There is a silent way of knowing. Like a glow in the field of sight or a electric tingle on the tips of the fingers that says what is feels like to be right. Reaching deeper ways of knowing comes with reacting to art like it is live. Stopping would be death to art – the end of authenticity. Looking only the image – one is only reacting the surface. To touch is to go beyond physical – establishing connection with the vibrant knowledge – adoring wisdom and radiance of the flow.

Laaksonen also works as a curator of Altogame gallery – continuing to work equally as an artist and a curator – creating works of art by curating conceptual entities of contemporary artists. He is recognised trendsetter of emerging artists, working actively on Finnish art scene, on several trusted positions and curatorial tasks.

(Ville Laaksonen also works as a curator of the Altogame gallery.)

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