PhD, MFA, research doctor at the Donner Institute (The Åbo Akademi University Foundation)
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. In my postdoctoral research, I further delve into the discourses related to esotericism, heterodox and especially ‘Eastern spirituality’ in modern and subsequent Nordic art.
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 also in art history and art and design. 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 experimental exhibition Path to Hidden Knowledge was at Villa Gyllenberg (Helsinki) in summer 2020.
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, Ilona Harima, Meri Genetz, clairvoyance, mediumistic art, esotericism in Finland, curating, exhibitions
Publications relating to the project:
Books and special issues:
- 2021. Seekers of the Spiritual Art and Higher Wisdom: Encounters between Art and Esotericism. Approaching Religion, Vol. 11 No. 1 (2021). Edited by Nina Kokkinen and Ruth Illman.
- 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. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-7607-2
- 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:
- 2021. ”Artists as truth-seekers: Focusing on agency and seekership in the study of art and occulture” – Approaching Religion, 11(1), 4–27. https://doi.org/10.30664/ar.98310
- 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.
Curated exhibitions relating to esotericism:
- The Inner Eye. The exhibition focusing on clairvoyance in late 19th and early 20th century Finnish art was on display at the Gallen-Kallela Museum and Tikanoja Art Museum in 2019.
- The Path to Hidden Knowledge. The exhibition sheds light on the idea of initiation from experimental perspective and presents a wide range of Finnish artists (1890–1950) interested in esotericism. The exhibition was on display at Villa Gyllenberg (Helsinki) in summer/autumn 2020.
Profile in Finnish >>>