New season - new highlights: Rut Bryk "Ice Flow"

Rut Bryk, reliefi (preliminary work), "Ice Flow", proveniens Harry Blomster. Estimate: 15 000 - 20 000 EUR.


Rut Bryk was 25 years old when she started her career at Arabia Art Department in 1942. Success in various design competitions had led the management of the art department to take an interest in and offer work to the promising young artist. With an education in graphic design, Bryk had never worked with ceramics before, thus the first years at Arabia were a time of orientation for the artist, during which she received guidance and influences from, among others, her colleague Birger Kaipiainen. Bryk's artistic independence took place in the 1950s, when her works began to display a kind of pictorial world saturated with strong colors, often displaying everyday and homely, sometimes fairy-tale like and religious motifs.

After Bryk's early career had been based on a pictorial subject and mainly on color, they began to be replaced in the 1960s by abstract composition and a narrower color palette. Bryk’s technique changed from graphic drawing decoration to tile technique, and the variation of opaque and glossy surfaces as well as lights and shadows on a three dimensional surface began to become central to her work. Over the decades, the size of Bryk’s modest and discreet works grew, and especially in the 1980s, she executed several monumental works of site-specific art, that seamlessly blended into their surroundings.

Picture: Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation.


The last artwork by the artist, who did her life's work in the art department of Arabia , was the shimmering white relief wall ‘Jäävirta’ (Ice Flow), built in 1991 in the official residence of the President of the Republic of Finland in Mäntyniemi. In the building designed by Raili and Reima Pietilä, Bryk's screen-like masterpiece acts as a space divider that separates the public and private space of the building.

The main elements of the work, which shines in shades of white, are Alkupilvet, Tunturi, Kuilu and Jäävirta. Each of them is an independent work of art and at the same time part of an ensemble that depicts the eternal cycle of nature and water. In the most dramatic part of the work, an ice stream splits the panel vertically, spreading into a multi-branched estuary and a stream pool flickering in cold tones of blue. You can see melting snow or ice rafts in the glistening stream. Rut Bryk did not like to explain her works, but in her late white luminous works one can still feel the artist's passion for nature in Lapland - Bryk's family had a second home in Lapland where they worked and were inspired by nature and natural phenomena. For the ice stream, Bryk found its shape in a small stream flowing into Lake Pulmankijärvi.

Bryk worked on Jäävirta for three years. The work, made up of thousands of tiles composed on seven panels, was outlined in the artist’s studio, where Bryk could view her horizontally set work only by climbing a high ladder. The piece that is now being sold at Bukowskis is a preliminary model of a detail of the Jäävirta ensemble executed for Mäntyniemi. Rut Bryk donated this draft to Harry Blomster, the CEO of Arabia.

The piece will be sold at Helsinki Design + Contemporary Art on the 9 - 25 of October. Read more about the auction and discover the catalogue here >