A Collector’s Life Work – J.O. Mallander

12.11.2021 - 13.3.2022

Art reviewer, curator, artist and gallerist J. O. Mallander (b. 1944), who has Enriched the Finnish art world in many ways, has been collecting art for more than five decades. Since the early 1990s, he has focused specifically on oriental art. The exhibition, which opens in November at the Helinä Rautavaara Museum, features works of art from India, Nepal and Tibet from the collector’s collection.

Interest in India arose in 1972 when the young artist traveled the country with the Danish yoga community. The young traveler did not yet focus on collecting, but nevertheless acquired Bodhidharma and other popular pictures of her home. Inspired by the trip, he began studying Indian philosophy and the basics of yoga. Another significant event on the collector’s life path was the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Finland in I988. After the visit, Mallander began collecting Buddhist art and literature.

Collecting has been part of Mallander’s life from a young age. As a child, he first collected tin soldiers and stamps. As a teenager, he moved on to collecting books, cultural magazines, jazz records and, later, there were piles of newspaper articles.

For a long time, Mallander had no especial aspiration to collect art, but in the company of artists of my own generation, his collection grew spontaneously. Then in 1991, he sold that first collection to the Helsinki Art Museum. With the proceeds, he started building a new collection predominantly focused on Oriental art.

As a collector, Mallander focuses on living tradition. All the works acquired in the collection are united by the fact that they inspire the owner in his practice of Buddhism.

Gathering oriental art has become a life mission and a purpose in life.

“What does this collection mean for me? It is an opportunity to show something unique and valuable – the best thing I can do with my life. The collection becomes a unique new whole, something that takes the individual works of art to a new level of significance. That way, my collection becomes my contribution.”

Photo: Jouko Vatanen 2021

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