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The 2022 Maire Gullichsen Prize has been awarded to the visual artist Erik Creutziger, who is known for his figurative, colourist paintings. The Maire Gullichsen Prize is now being awarded for the 10th time. The art prize is worth 10,000 euros.

The Prize Committee gives the following reasons for its choice of recipient: Erik Creutziger’s paintings are irresistible, because they do not involve a battle with the viewer. Creutziger neither provokes viewers nor teaches us anything, rather, these paintings seem to have come about of themselves. This absence of self has honourable traditions in the history of painting. Wassily Kandinsky called it “inner necessity”. Before him, the concept was used by Richard Wagner and Leo Tolstoy, and, after him, by Arnold Schönberg, Heinrich Wölfflin, Oswald Spengler and others. After Modernism, the term “inner necessity” has for inexplicable reasons been thrown onto the scrap heap, from where the Maire Gullichsen Prize Committee has disinterred it and held it up as a main criterion for their selections.

“In Creutziger’s paintings inner necessity is linked to honouring the conditions of painterliness. He dissolves the materiality of the form in favour of colourism, but in his works this does not lead to an abstraction of their subject matter, but to landscape or space-like imagery. Figures, animals and people merge into the surrounding space, bringing to mind Chinese ink paintings. Outlines are dissolved and with the aid of colour everything becomes one. In balancing figures and colour, Creutziger demonstrates a virtuosity that has become rare in contemporary art.”

The Maire Gullichsen Prize is primarily awarded to a young art professional every other year or so. The prize cannot be applied for, instead, a multidisciplinary jury chooses the prizewinner on the basis of artistic expression, exhibition and studio visits, and conversations with the artist.

Erik Creutziger says the atmosphere of his paintings is usually based on his own experiences. “For my paintings I use glimpses stored in memory of events that have occurred, for example, on trips or perhaps on long walks. I am fascinated by combining the seen and experienced with the world of fantasy,” he says. Creutziger will next take part in the Reality and Imagination group exhibition at the Museum of New Art in Pärnu, Estonia, in April 2023.

More about the artist and his works here.
Instagram @erik.creutziger

Erik Creutziger. Kuva Lasse Palmu.

Erik Creutziger. Kuva Lasse Palmu.


Erik Creutziger (1982) is a visual artist from Helsinki, who graduated from the Free Art School, Helsinki, in 2007 and from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, in 2013. He is a member of the Finnish Painters’ Union, Kuvasto, and Helsinki Artists’ Association. His works are, for instance, in the collections of HAM Helsinki Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (The Seppo Fränti  Collection), EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, and Pro Artibus Foundation. Creutziger was awarded the Héléne and Walter Grönqvist Stiftelse prize in 2020, William Thuring main prize in 2019, and the Stina Krook Foundation Award in 2015.

Maire Gullichsen’s 80th Anniversary Fund was founded in 1988, to commemorate the birthday of the prominent patron of the arts Maire Gullichsen (1907–1990), and is administered by the Alvar Aalto Foundation. In 2022, the members of the Maire Gullichsen Prize Committee were: Leif Jakobsson (Chair), Johanna Gullichsen, Kirsi Gullichsen, Harry Alanen, Leena Kuumola and Silja Rantanen.

The prize has previously been awarded to: Pekka Sassi (2020); Inka Kivalo (2018); Vesa-Pekka Rannikko (2007); Sandra Kantanen (2005); Nathalie Lahdenmäki (2002); Mari Rantanen (1997); Marjatta Oja (1993); Tor Arne (1991); and Pekka Pitkänen (1987).

Further information:
Chair of Prize Committee Leif Jakobsson
+358 440 304 099

Secretary of Prize Committee Mari Forsberg
+358 45 679 0920

Artist Erik Creutziger
+358 40 702 4048

Interview requests and media images:
Communications Manager Mirkka Vidgrén, Alvar Aalto Foundation
+358 40 168 5142