Ahti Lavonen
(Finland, 1928-1970)
Ahti lavonen, "yellow square".
Ahti lavonen, "yellow square".
Ahti lavonen, "yellow square".
Ahti lavonen, "yellow square".

Ahti Lavonen, "Yellow square".

Sign. -66. Oil and mixed media on canvas 150 x 150 cm.

Wear due to age and use.

Droit de suite: Yes

Bought from V. Hollming & Co 1978, later in the same family.


Artists' Association of Finland, Warsaw, Budapest 1966.


The artist Ahti Lavonen was one of the pioneers of Finnish informalism. As an opinionated writer, he was also a prominent and famous figure in the turbulent art field of Finland in the 1960s. Central to Lavonen's career as an artist was constant exploration and renewal. He gave up representativeness early on in his art and moved on to abstract expression. He divided his own production into different periods, centred around different colours. According to Lavonen, the choice of colours in his art was based on what stage of inner life he was going through at that given time. His black period began in the early 1960s with the spiritual awakening that Lavonen experienced, as a result of which the intense colours changed to an ascetic union of black and white. At the same time, his works began to show the interest in surface textures emphasizing materiality, typical to informalism.

After his black period, Lavonen again experienced restlessness and a need for renewal. The artist embarked on a journey towards his white period, during which he felt, in his words, that he had entered a pure area of abstract art where he could finally master the whole essence of art. As the white season culminated, thoughtful colour and silver details also appeared in his works. The short period that followed the white period has been characterized as Lavonen's silver period. At that time, Lavonen sought light and brightness in his works by frosting various structures with silver. The artist himself mentioned that the tremendous progress of space science in the 1960s and space thinking influenced his works during this period.

Various elements have found their way into Ahti Lavonen's artworks through different routes, some through various coincidences, some as a combination of artistic crisis and logical development. The yellow colour once found its place in a painting already deemed complete, when the artist stumbled upon an old construction site barrack on a forest trip. The deep brown wall of the barrack had been wiped with bright and glowing yellow paint, which made a great impression on the artist.

"I knew at that moment that if I add that same yellow to my own painting, I have solved the artwork once and for all, and that is what happened. When I went home and brushed a small yellow spot on my painting, it came to life. After that, the yellow, red and blue accents became symbols of life for me”. – Ahti Lavonen

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Laura Pohjola
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