To work in Germany
Central Europe is constantly in a particularly important position on Juhani Palmu's world map. The need to move there arose for many reasons at the end of the last decade. When choosing a place to live, Switzerland was also considered at first, where Palmu already received a residence permit and where one of his collaborative galleries, Galerie 3 in Neuchâtel, is located, but Germany still seemed like the best and most natural solution. Palmu moved with his family to Bonn in 1989.
Bonn was already a familiar city to Palmu - a beautiful and peaceful region and the administrative center of Germany, where he had had an exhibition ten years earlier. In the diplomatic district of Bad Godesberg, a suitable apartment was found, the upper floor of which had a space suitable for a more than 50 square meter studio. There were no problems with residence and work permits either, and when the actual 200-square-meter studio was soon found, effective work began immediately.
Going to Germany also had the flavor of a subconscious or instinctive decision. Afterwards, the move turned out to be definitely successful. In my own words, the change of environment and cultural atmosphere was absolutely important. Germany is one of the major centers of the art trade, but it was essential to be able to mirror myself and my work against contemporary artists there and their work. Naturally, Georg Baselitz, AR Penck and Markus Lüpertz have also become familiar. Entering the Cologne school has gone well and its impact on Palmu's art has been revolutionary.
Connections with "real" people and influencers in the field came naturally. A very energetic gallerist, Professor Brigitte Wagner in Bonn, Renate Lewandowski, dean of the Cologne University of Arts, and her son, e.g. Markus Hofmann, who makes exhibition catalogs, Karl Marx, also a professor at the Cologne University of Arts and an internationally well-known artist, and Josef Decker, who works as a professor of photography, are among the professionals in Palmu's inner circle.
Galerie Leu in Munich has also become a close partner as an exhibition organizer in recent years.
Building relationships and communicating in Germany has required the artist to study German intensively. He had to climb over the language barrier at the same time as he also had to gain a foothold as a visual artist. Here in the heart of Europe, there was a new opportunity - a new door, and Palmu succeeded in opening it.
The first great experience was entering the master class at the Cologne University of the Arts. The samples and other selection materials had been delivered to Professor Decker, but nothing was heard for weeks. The professor had forgotten to inform Palmu of the acceptance decision, who therefore thought he had messed up. Only after an inquiry did the chancellor of the university of arts send a paper that confirmed Palmu's admission to the master class of this well-known art school.
Fifteen artists had been selected from a large group of applicants for the international master class group. The acceptance certificate was a balm for the unfulfilled school aspirations of Palmu's youth. He enthusiastically began to do new work.
Master class students met once a week. Everyone in turn brought their works to the school, which were then discussed. In everything, it was emphasized that the imprint of the Cologne school was somehow wanted to emerge in the artists' production - completely self-willed and careless work was not encouraged.
For Mercedes-lehti 2/91, Juhani Palmu stated about his move to Germany and the inspiring cultural environment of Cologne's Düsseldorf area: "Everything works in Germany. It's not enough that Spain is cheap, Monaco is tax-free, or Switzerland is just otherwise desirable. In Bonn, I've had the opportunity to do my job, renew myself and to learn more."
The stagnant and negative mental atmosphere in Finland was also forcibly increasing the pressure to move abroad. In a newspaper interview, Palmu characterized the matter as follows: "The atmosphere of Finnish art is marked by deathly silence. That's why I felt it was appropriate to distance myself." Juhani Palmu became a member of the BBK, the German artists' union, shortly after arriving in Bonn in 1989. In Finland, he has never applied for membership in the Association of Artists.
Important subjects, the main themes of an individual, a person, often dive unexpectedly from somewhere in the subconscious. They expand - strive for their full power - subside - and sometimes disappear from view. Later they may return - perhaps transformed and modified - with new ideas and with new powers.
This is how important themes also appear in Juhani Palmu's productions. Many of the main themes were already present in the 1970s, only to return later in surprising new forms.
Naked woman - one of the most eternal subjects - debuted at Palmu during the stages of 1975–76. The series of works traveled to Sweden - people in the surrounding area had disapproved of the choice of subject. In recent years, naked women have returned to Palmu's works, e.g. through the "sauna theme", as stylized patterns in front of cubist-styled buildings or shamanistic object symbols - sometimes color flows towards them from above like a curtain from another world.
In these works approaching surrealism, the "counter-subject", a tightly bound sauna breeze, also sounds as a kind of side theme, in the stylized form of which even the leafless trees of the landscape try to settle.