Nina Kokkinen

PhD, MFA, Post-doctoral Researcher, Study of Religion, University of Turku

I am particularly fascinated with the impact of esotericism on art and creativity. In my PhD research I have explored the role of esoteric spirituality in modern art with a specific focus on visual and textual material produced by Finnish artists around the year 1900.

In my research I have re-conceptualized the notions of ‘occulture’ and ‘seekership’ –  concepts that build a bridge from late nineteenth-century esotericism to present-day spirituality. In the framework of my study, finnish artists Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931), Hugo Simberg (1873–1917), and Pekka Halonen (1865–1933) are defined as seekers who looked for answers to a variety of significant questions by turning towards the heterogenous field of occulture, in which the co-existence of esotericism, art, and science produced a fruitful interaction.

My identity as a researcher is that of a nomad, who wanders from one academic subject to another, also crossing the line between science and art. My PhD research has been conducted in the academic field of religious studies, but I have a master’s degree in art and design. I have also studied art history. My perception of the world is founded on visuality as much as language. I am passionate about challenging ideas and crossing all kinds of boundaries.

I am also curating art exhibitions relating to esotericism. The Inner Eye exhibition was on display at the Gallen-Kallela Museum and Tikanoja Art Museum in 2019. The Path to Hidden Knowledge  exhibition will be opened during the summer 2020 in Villa Gyllenberg (Helsinki).

Keywords: Art and esotericism, spirituality in modern art, seekers and seekership, occulture, esotericism around 1900, art and science, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Hugo Simberg, Pekka Halonen, clairvoyance, mediumistic art, esotericism in Finland, curating


Publications relating to the project:
Books and special issues:

  • 2020. Spiritual Treasures — Esotericism in the Finnish Art World 1890–1950. Edited by Nina Kokkinen and Lotta Nylund. Helsinki: Parvs. Find it here!
  • 2020. Moderni esoteerisuus ja okkultismi Suomessa [Modern esotericism and occultism in Finland]. Edited by Tiina Mahlamäki and Nina Kokkinen. Find it here!
  • 2019. Totuudenetsijät. Vuosisadanvaihteen okkulttuuri ja moderni henkisyys Akseli Gallen-Kallelan, Pekka Halosen ja Hugo Simbergin taiteessa [Truth Seekers: Fin-de-Siècle Occulture and Modern Spirituality in the Art of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Pekka Halonen and Hugo Simberg]. PhD thesis. Turku: University of Turku.
  • 2013. Occulture and Modern Art. Special issue in Aries – Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism 2013 (2). Edited by Nina Kokkinen and Tessel M. Bauduin.

Articles in english:

  • 2020. ”Intiation in Art and Esotericism” – Nina Kokkinen & Lotta Nylund (eds.) Spiritual Treasures — Esotericism in the Finnish Art World 1890–1950. Helsinki: Parvs, 8–23.
  • 2020. ”Ilona Harima and Mediumistic Art” – Nina Kokkinen & Lotta Nylund (eds.) Spiritual Treasures — Esotericism in the Finnish Art World 1890–1950. Helsinki: Parvs, 92–99.
  • 2017. ”Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Guardian Angels (Ravens) 1888 and Ad Astra 1907” – Lotta Nylund (ed.) Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation’s Art Collection. Helsinki: Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, 83–89.
  • 2013. ”Occulture as an Analytical Tool in the Study of Art” – Aries – Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism 2013 (2), 7–36.
  • 2013. ”Hugo Simberg’s Art and the Widening Perspective into Swedenborg’s Ideas” – Karl Grandin (ed.) Emanuel Swedenborg – Exploring a “World memory”: Context, Content, Contribution. Stockholm: Center for History of Science, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 246–266.
  • 2011. ”The Artist as Initiated Master. Themes of Fin-de-Siècle Occulture in the Art of Akseli Gallen-Kallela” – Fill Your Soul! Paths of Research into the Art of Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Espoo: The Gallen-Kallela Museum, 46–59.

Profile in Finnish >>>

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