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Parikkala, Finland

Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden

Collection of nearly 500 concrete figures sculpted by the late Veijo Rönkkönen. 

Over the course of almost 50 years, from the early 1960s until his death in 2010, Finnish-born artist Veijo Rönkkönen constructed nearly 500 concrete figures and displayed them on the grounds of the home he’d lived in since birth.

The majority of these are human statues performing a variety of activities; one noteworthy sight features a cluster of roughly 200 figures, purportedly self-portraits of the artist, in various yoga poses. The sculptures are not particularly lifelike, but rather possess an otherworldly and at times downright sinister quality, with blank, sunken eyes, skeletal body proportions, ghoulish grins, and, in some cases, the use of real human teeth. Non-human figures include large treelike structures with cone-shaped branches.

While he lived, Rönkkönen was known as something of a recluse. Despite his status as a small town paper mill worker however, he was incredibly well read, and was said to have experienced the world through the page, and the many ethnicities of his statues suggest this. Though he never discouraged visitors, he remained aloof from the tourism activities that cropped up in response to the public’s interest in his unusual collection. Despite requests, he refused to showcase his work outside his private residence. Following the artist’s death, the sculpture garden and accompanying property was purchased by Finnish businessman Reino Uusitalo who plans to refurbish the sculptures as needed and offer guided tours of the premises.

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