The Way to a Life of Values – Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo

21.9.2019 - 19.1.2020

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo: A Monument to the Man of the World to Come, 1975, gouache on paper. Valola Foundation. Photo: Jouni Kiiskinen

How does a person become human? How to maintain one’s humanity and the ability to function even under exceptional conditions?

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo: Ali’s coat of arms, 1946, gouache. Valola Foundation. Photo: Jouni Kiiskinen

Hints for answers to these questions can be found in the life of artist and Doctor in Education (h.c.) Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo (1900 –1997) and his thousands of works and acts of art. Ahola-Valo had  a rich and varied life of which many tales can be told. This exhibition outlines a picture of his world view and educational thinking.

The works by Akseli Gallen-Kallela in the exhibition enter into a dialogue of wonderment with the human condition. Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo met Akseli Gallen-Kallela at Tarvaspää in 1930.


Towards light

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo (1900 –1997) spent his childhood in the Lake Ladoga region of Karelia and in Ingria in the vicinity of St Petersburg. An  outsider in the visual arts in Finland, he  spent most of his life beyond the present borders of Finland in Russia, later Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union, and finally in Sweden. As new borders were drawn and Ahola-Valo changed his place of residence, he was viewed with suspicion and even imprisoned. He had to flee persecution and conditions that became impossible for him. Art followed him everywhere. It was part of his lifestyle, helping him establish contacts and support himself.

Disturbing experiences on the eve of the Russian Revolution and the ever-present threat of violence led the young ‘Ali’ to choose for his life a direction leading towards a good, or at least better, future. He hoped that he could provide this for all other people through his art and inventions.

Ali’s own experiences of a school managed voluntarily by its pupils, a communal tour de force of children, and the declining lifestyles of adults led him, already in his early childhood, to seek the keys to change in enlightenment and education. He went on to develop  the ‘tools for guiding activities’ that ultimately became an integral aspect of Ahola-Valo’s personal method and science, which he called AE-evohomology.

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo wearing summer suit, photomanipulation 1921. Valola Foundation. Photo: Jouni Kiiskinen

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo’s personal path to a life of values staked out  by art is a sign of the power of education and creativity, and at the same time of the incompleteness of the project of achieving humanity.


The exhibition is curated by Jouni Kiiskinen, Doctor of Fine Arts, whose published doctoral dissertation on Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo’s method and ethics of self-education, Visuaalinen tie arvoelämään. Aleksanteri Ahola-Valon itsekasvatuksen menetelmä ja etiikka (2011), discusses AE-evohomology.



In association with: Valola Foundation, Elpo ry

Work of curator Jouni Kiiskinen has been supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation.


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