Aleksandra Ionowa was born in 19.4.1899
from Russian parents in Lahti, Finland. She also passed away in Lahti in 1980.
Her father was a wealthy merchant. The daughter was
allowed to study in the Russian gymnasium in Helsinki. As a bourgeois girl
she got the best possible eduction among the elite. After she finished
school, it was the time of great upheaval in Finland, and Aleksandra
started a coffee house in her home in Hennala, Lahti. Later in her
life, she lived in Putula, near Lahti.
The defining spiritual experience happened in 14.7.1946.
Suddenly she felt that "she was in Heaven and Heaven was in her". When
she grabbed a pencil, images started to appear. In the third day she
felt that she had become an artist. A power poured out of her and took
form of images, aphorisms and musical improvisations.
Aleksandra's work is very comprehensive. In his book
"Taivas oli minussa" (The Heaven was in Me) Voitto Viro talks about
4000 paintings. The honorary chairwoman of Ionowa Society Kaarina
Lindblad tells that even 10 000 works is possible.
Ionowa Foundation has made a contract with the Lahti Art Museum to hold a collection of 1300 paintings. Ionowa's
work consists of drawings, watercolors, pastels, gouache and oil
paintings. The artist herself has said, that she was always inspired.
Aleksandra lived with her friend Selma
Mäkelä in modest household in Putula, Hämeenkoski. When
Aleksandra finished her painting, she took a glass plate, a cardboard
and strong adhesive tape to frame the painting.
In those days, adhesive tape was a new product. It was
used to fix the paper to the cardboard. In that way, the glue of the
tape has come through the paper leaving an unfortunate mark. It is
not just a cosmetic inconvenience, since the acidic taint is slowly
spreading in the work threatening to destroy it completely.
Osmo Haapasalo from Lahti has restored some of the work
and is continuing to do so, but lack of proper funding is an issue in
the restoration and saving of Ionowa's work.
Poet Sirkka Selja from Putula has found an incomplete
manuscript of Aleksandra Ionowa's autobiography. It's a sensitive
depiction of her childhood and early days.
A unique mystical artist Aleksandra Ionowa is not a well
known artist outside of her old neighborhood. Small exhibitions around
Finland have made her work known little by little, but it is still
waiting for proper public attention and recognition.
MORE INFO AND LITERATURE:
Aleksandra Ionowa, "Kuvia ja mieterunoja" (1971)
Voitto Viro, "Taivas oli minussa - Aleksandra Ionowan taidetta" (WSOY 1965)