Hilja Roivainen


ORCID identifier: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4521-2395

Areas of expertise
Utopian Landscape Painting; Landscape Iconography; the intersection between the intellectual history of utopia and the history of landscape painting; Nordic Art; Contemporary Painting; Utopian Studies; Ernst Bloch; Art History


Hilja Roivainen, M.A. (Fine Art, University of East London, 2011) is a painter and Ph.D. Art History Candidate at the University of Turku. She is currently finalizing a Finnish thesis monograph with the preliminary title the Continuum of Utopian Landscape Types in 21st Century Nordic Painting.

Among her recent peer-reviewed publications is an article in the book Landscapes of Affect and Emotion (Brill, 2021), and two journal articles in an edited special issue on mobilities in Tahiti (2019) and on utopia in Ennen ja Nyt (2017).

Hilja’s areas of expertise include utopian landscape types, landscape painting, the intersection between the intellectual history of utopia and the Western history of landscape painting, contemporary Nordic painting, and Utopian Studies on Ernst Bloch.


How to recognize the pictorial idea of a utopia within a landscape painting? I suggest that there are three noticeable signifiers of a utopian landscape painting: (1.) topoi of pastoral, picturesque, sublime, arcadia or paradise landscape types (2.) clichéd yet metaphorical landscape elements marking these topoi and (3.) a colour mode. I analyse the ideas of utopian landscapes in the light of the research by human geographer Denis E. Cosgrove (1998) and philosopher Ernst Bloch (1959/1986). My method combines iconography with the intellectual history of utopian thought.

In my art history thesis monograph, I argue that, a selected case of Nordic painters: Anna Tuori (FI, 1976), Petri Ala-Maunus (FI, 1970), Astrid Nondal (NO, 1958), Andreas Eriksson (SE, 1975), Eggert Pétursson (IS, 1956) and John Kørner (DK, 1967), problematise in their 21st Century paintings these historically utopian landscape settings. They do this by mixing utopian with dystopian or apocalyptic iconography.

With reference to the case of paintings, and a few selected examples of 16th to 20th Century western landscape paintings, the utopian fiction and Bloch’s utopian landscape metaphors, I create a definition of a utopian landscape painting. Bloch (1959/1986) applies to his utopian philosophy several linguistic metaphors that refer to landscape elements, and have not been studied before. Bloch (1986, 917) discuss the “…mountain-, ocean- or sky-object of…specific astonishment” that also express nostalgia, a utopian movement forwards, or an anticipation of the future. These metaphorical and ideological functions of landscape objects persist since the modern history of landscape painting.

TAHI2610 Läntisen maisemamaalauksen ja maisemataiteen merkitykset 1600-luvulta 2000-luvulle (3 op), aineopinnot, IV periodi, 12.3.–30.4.2015

TAHI2185, Luontotilan idealisointi maisemataiteessa (2–5 op), aineopinnot, IV periodi, 9.3.–27.4.2016


Last updated on 2022-15-10 at 15:10