Kiasma-lehti | Kiasma Magazine
Kiasma-lehti 16 | Kiasma Magazine 16
No 16 Vol 5

Hugo Kalervo Palsa -biography

b. 12 March 1947 in Kittilä, d. 4 October 1987 in Kittilä

Hugo Kalervo Palsa was born in Porvoo's cabin on 12 March 1947.

Father died.

Work was exhibited for the first time. The occasion was the annual exhibition of Lapp art held in the auditorium of the Rovaniemi library.

After three years of admiring her from a distance, declared his love to Maaret Latva. His confession did not meet with response, although a clear rejection was not forthcoming either. In the autumn Maaret suddenly moved to Helsinki to live with her older sister, Maj-Lis Pitkänen.

His correspondence with Maaret's sister, Maj-Lis, developed into a profound and open exchange of ideas.

Applied for admission to the school of the Fine Arts Academy, and was accepted to take the entrance examination. But he never finished.

Work was on show for the first time in Helsinki, in the Atelier Bar in Hotel Torni. Palsa did not sell a single work in the show.

Received his matriculation certificate, and was very proud that he had completed school. He was one of the first in his family to do so. On the other hand, he regretted the time he had lost at school.
The friendship between Palsa and Reidar Särestöniemi deepened.

Won the first prize of the comics competition held in conjunction with the Youth Art Festival in Turku.

Work was seen in group exhibitions in Northern Finland and in Helsinki, and through reviews his art gradually also came to be known among the public at large.

Met Erkki Pirtola at the Turku comics festival in the early 1970s.

Moved to Helsinki and began studies on the general study line at the Vocational School of Arts and Crafts.

Was exempted from military service.

Sought admission to the school of the Fine Arts Academy.

The comics book Minun Getsemane (My Gethsemane) was published by Palsa himself.

The lack of money and drinking both in Helsinki and during his holidays in Kittilä made him frustrated and depressed during his studies at the Academy, but so did the concrete milieu of his apartment in Helsinki.

Returned from Helsinki to Kittilä, intending to live more permanently in his studio. Whenever he needed electricity, he had to run the extension chord to the shack. During electricity-less periods he painted by daylight, an oil lamp, or candlelight.

Having finished art school, sought his niche in Helsinki and Kittilä. The art community and his career would require that Palsa live in Helsinki, but the peace and quiet in his home region drew the artist. On the other hand, the oppressive, Jantean atmosphere at home in Kittilä did not provide for Palsa the kind of understanding that he often felt while in Helsinki.

Got his first grant from the Arts Council for Lapland.

Mother's death was a heavy blow. She had supported his artistic aspirations throughout the years, and had tried to help him both mentally and financially.

Lived in Helsinki almost the whole year, where he stayed with friends and in the studio on Töölönkatu street.

He worked as a model at the Drawing Institute at the University. He liked work as a model, and would have welcomed more opportunities to do so.

A joint exhibition by Palsa, Aulikki Nukala, and Tapani Rantala was opened at the Kemi Art Museum in December 1980. Rantala's and Nukala's criticism was targeted at the pornographic nature of Palsa's works, and they commented that much of the public would, therefore, not come to see the exhibition. The scandal awakened by the exhibition and its coverage in local press led to a different result, however.

Bought a television set, subscribed to the Heavy Metal magazine, and began putting together a scrapbook of articles about his art.

Received a grant from the Arts Council for Lapland. He bought a telephone subscription and a radio, paid off his debts, and submitted a plan for paying back his study loan, which was already in distraint.

Work featured at the Kunsthalle in Helsinki at the exhibition "Näyttely -82". Palsa's works received positive reviews in Helsingin Sanomat, and he was pleased with his role as the mainattraction of the exhibition.

Brother Lassi died. Palsa lived alone in his parents' house, and often wrote in his diary how the solitude and quiet were good for him.

Was a guest artist at the guest studio of the Nordic Art Centre in Gerlesborg, Sweden. Drove with some friends from Gerlesborg to Copenhagen, and via Germany to Groningen and Amsterdam.

Decided to travel from Gerlesborg to New York with his friends. He considered the sights and experiences odd and perverted, but was aware of the similarity with his own background and his own paintings.

Met Rosa Liksom at the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä.

Accepted as a member of the Finnish Painters' Union.

Participated in workshop entitled "Pro Graphic Orvelte", held in Groningen in the Netherlands.

Kalervo Palsa died of pneumonia in his studio in Kittilä on 4 October 1987.