For centuries, statues have frozen important occasions in time. From the ancient time to this day, there have been millions of artworks created, that are vivid and unique. But, the sculptures of Viejo Rönkkönen are something special.
Parikalla, Finland, is not a popular tourist destination. Located right next to the Russian border, this quiet place doesn’t seem to have anything out of the ordinary. But, roaming around the park of Viejo Rönkkönen is not a walk in a park.
Every narrow pathway is surrounded by life-sized statues, that could give even the bravest visitors chills. Each sculpture is strategically placed by trees and bushes, for the better effect. Distorted faces and twisted body shapes, seem to stare at visitors, with their hollow eyes.
Sculptures of women washing clothes, traditional dancers and dozens of statues practicing extreme yoga poses: they’re all hiding in the Viejo Rönkkönen park. Strange as it may seem, these statues are the result of one man’s endless passion for sculpture and the human body.
Viejo Rönkkönen was just another paper factory worker in 1961, when he created his first sculpture. What started out as a spare time activity ended up being his true calling. Viejo fell in love with this art form, so he spent the next 49 years of his life solely creating statues. By the time he passed away in 2010, the artist had completed more than 450 pieces.
The location isn’t an actual park. It is the garden of the very house, where Viejo spent all his life. He loved the house so much, that he was never seen outside. The artist always left the garden open for visitors. However, he never went outside to talk to anyone. His only way of communication was through a notebook, which he used to leave near the sculptures.
Over the years, many museums and expositions wanted to showcase the sculptor’s creation. Each time, he responded, that he had to “check with the statues first” and apparently the statues always said “no”. Furthermore, when he received the Finlandia prize in 2007, Viejo sent his brother to attend the ceremony.
Today, the Viejo Rönkkönen Park holds the most precious collection of contemporary pieces of folk art in Finland. Some may say it’s creepy, while others find it purely fascinating. Either way, each statue lives on to tell the tale of a brilliant, solitary mind through its twisted originality.