Bio and CV

Anu Osva is a Finnish artist with scientific background in animal breeding (i.e. genetics, quantitative genetics and mathematics). She worked ten years as a researcher in this field, but chose to pursue an artistic career in 1990.

In 1999 she began to combine scientific thinking and observations into her artistic work. In her paintings layers of genetic information are mixed with random layers of oil colours.  These layers of colour may contain natural, historical or cultural observations, or they may be related to our belief systems.

In 2005 Osva participated in a field trip to North-East Siberia together with a socio-cultural research team from Helsinki University.  The target was three isolated, small villages, where endangered, genetically unique Yakutian Cattle still lives as a population of  900 animals.  In her art project entitled ‘Yakutian cattle – A Research Expedition to Siberia in 2000’s ‘ she  is investigating  this cattle as  companion species and  co-travelers for humans in harsh, arctic environment.

Since 2008 she has been developing artists and researchers cooperation at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station (Helsinki University) under umbrella of Ars Bioarctica. She was the first chairperson of the Bioart Society. Together with corresponding project teams she was creating art projects Water Flea Circus, Midnight Sun and ClimateScope.

Last six years  her  focus has been arctic waters, especially in plankton and its different lifeforms with viewpoint in evolution and ecology. Residency periods in Kilpisjärvi and working in laboratories have given her new ways to work with painting, video and space simultaneously.

In summer 2015 she joined  research project Arctic Ark to work with starting point in  art and science practices.    Arctic Arc studies domestic animals’ adaptation to the Arctic as complex human-environmental process.

Osva has had several  exhibitions in Finland  and she has also displayed her works in international venues in Iceland, Sweden, Croatia and Belgium.


Born 1953 in Helsinki, works and lives in Helsinki, Finland


  • 1997/98 University of Art and Design, Helsinki, pedagogical studies for artists, (1 year)
  • 1985-87 Turku School of Fine Arts , 2 years
  • 1984 Licentiate in Science (Animal Breeding/ Agriculture and Forestry), University of Helsinki (lower doctoral degree)
  • 1979 Master of Science in Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Major: Animal Breeding
  • 1972/73 University of Helsinki, Finnish Literature and Theoretical Philosophy

Solo Exhibitions (selcted)

  • 2016, Drop of Water, Nordic Culture Point, Helsinki
  • 2014, Pisara Vettä, Galleria Katariinan Studio, Helsinki
  • 2013 Veden hengitys, Galleria Kajava, Helsingin kaupunginkirjasto, Helsinki
  • 2010 Julkisivuja ja seiniä, maalaus julkisessa tilassa, Kaupunkitaiteen Galleria, WSP Finland Oy
  • 2007 Salin puolella, Art Goes Kapakka, Helsingin juhlaviikot, Ravintola Zetor
  • 2007 Yakutian Cattle – Exploring expedition to Siberia in the 2000’s, Gallery Katariina, Helsinki
  • 2006 Gallery Tove, Hanasaari Cultural Centre, Espoo
  • 2003 Life Code, Finnish Cultural Institute for Benelux, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2003 Life Code, Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art – Turku City Art Museum Studio, Turku
  • 2001 Questions to the Oracle, Gallery Aarni, Espoo
  • 2001, 2007 Open day, Villa Lante Atelier, Rome, Italy
  • 2000 tm-gallery, Helsinki
  • 1997 Gallery Pirkko-Liisa Topelius, Helsinki
  • 1997 In the Midst of Time , Art Museum of Joensuu, Joensuu
  • 1996 3 Rooms, Titanik, Turku
  • 1995 Sunlight Falls on the Kitchen Table, Ars Libera, Kuopio
  • 1993 Available also in Brussian Blue, Gallery Katariina, Helsinki
  • 1992 Kriittinen tila, Helsinki
  • 1991 Kuhankosken Kilta, Forssa
  • 1989 Gallery Mosabacka, Helsinki
  • 1989 Kuhankosken Kilta, Forssa
  • 1987 Spinning Mill (ca.1000mª), together with Tarja Orvokki Jaakkola, Forssa

Group Exhibitions (selected)

  • 2017  S P L I C E  – Re- examining Nature,  Oulu Art Museum
  • 2017  PAIMIONJOKI,  Someron Kivimeijeri
  • 2016, Supermarket Art Fair with Gallery Katariina, Stocholm
  • 2015 Pohjoisnapa -installaatio Korkeasaaren vanhassa jääkarhulinnassa, Grey Cube Galleriat, Korkeasaari, Helsinki / North Pole installation in an old Polar Bear Castle in Korkeasaari Zoo,  Grey Cube Galleries, Korkeasaari Helsinki
  • 2012, ArSboretum 12 – Animal Revolution, Westers / Gallery Pirkko-Liiisa Topelius, Kemiö  island.
  • 2012, 2011, In honour of Reidar Särestöniemi – materiality and informalism in works  of contemporary painters –   works painted during the 10 days symposium in Särestöniemi.  Särestöniemi Museum, University of Lapland and Regional Art Museum of Lapland  (Muonio, Kittilä, Posio and ja Ranua libraries)
  • 2011, LAB11, Luleå Art Biennalia 2011, with Waterscapes team performing Water Flea Circus, Luleå, Sweden
  • 2010, Getting Warmer – Climate Change in Contemporary Art, Joensuu Art Museum, Joensuu, Finland
  • 2009 Traces, Nacka Konsthalle (Dieselverkstad), Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2009 Traces, Galleria Uusikuva, Kotka
  • 2007 Traces, Rovinj Heritage Museum, Rovinj, Croatia
  • 2006 Desire to See, The Nordic House, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 2005 Relation-Vibration, Oceanhuset, Not Quite, Fengersfors, Sweden
  • 2003 Snow_Water_Ice, Porvoo Kunsthalle, Porvoo
  • 2001 Mänttä Art Festival, Mänttä
  • 2001 Annual Exhibition 2001, Jyväskylä Artists’ Association, Jyväskylä Art Museum, Jyväskylä
  • 1998 -Southwest Wind 10 m/s , Helsinki Artists’ Association, Suomenlinna, Helsinki
  • 1997 Konstnärsgillet 30 År – finsk konst, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1997 Helsinki Artists’ Association 30 years, Cable Factory, Helsinki
  • 1997 Kuhankosken Kilta 50 years, Spinning Mill, Forssa
  • 1995 Mänttä Art Festival, Mänttä
  • 1994 XL-Art Fair, Turku
  • 1994 Finnish Artists 99th Annual Exhibition 1994, Kunsthalle Helsinki
  • 1992 My Finland, Spinning Mill, Forssa


  • 80+1 Kilpisjärvi Climate Change, 2009, member of the development & project team. 80+1 Kilpisjärvi  Climate Change was part of  an international collaborative project 80+1 A Journey Around the World,  which scanned the critical questions of the  future of humankind. It was Ars Electronica Cenre’s input to   Linz Cultural Capital of Europe 2009 programme .  Activities in Kilpisjärvi: Global 80+1 project by Ars Electronica Centre:
  • Midnight Sun(2009) Erich Berger, Anu Osva, Laura Beloff , 80+1 A Journey Around the World – Kilpisjärvi Climate Change / Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria and Finnish Bioart Society. Live streaming of midnight sun from Kilpisjärvi onto the mediafacade of Ars Electronica building.
  • Water Flea Circus/Veskirppusirkus (2009-2011) Merja Talvela, Sini Haapalinna, Kristiina Ljokkoi, Anu Osva2011 LAB11 Biennal, Luleå Sweden,      2010  Joensuun Art Museum/Getting Warmer –  Climate Change in Art. Water Flea Circus was performed 10 times in the museum festival hall.  2009  80+1 A Journey Around the World – Kilpisjärvi Climate Change / Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria and Finnish Bioart Society.  Live performance between humans and water fleas, live streaming from Kilpisjärvi to Ars Electronica Center.
  • ClimateScope, Eric Berger, Laura Beloff, Anu Osvahere… A project for wide public to participate and involve themselves into the climate change and global warming, and aid the adaptation process of humans, by offering a possibility for personal contribution. The ClimateScope-project concept received an honorary mention in The Next Idea-category of the Ars Electronica Prix 2009

Public works

  • Helsinki City Hospital in Koskela, 8 paintings, Helsinki


  • City of Turku, City of Joensuu, City of Forssa, Municipality of Jokioinen
  • Reidar Särestöniemi Museum

Residencies (selected)

  • 2010 Ars Bioarctica, Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, 1 month, Kilpisjärvi, Finland
  • 2007 Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Villa Lante, 6 months, Roma, Italy
  • 2001 Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Villa Lante, 3 months, Roma, Italy

Confidential posts

  • The Finnish Bioart Society, chairperson 2008-2009
  • Helsinki City Art Museum, governing council 1998-2000
  • Helsinki Artists’ Association, executive committee 1996-1998


Artists’ Association of Finland/Finnish Painters Union, Helsinki Artists’ Association

Presentations and lectures, selected

  • 2011 Anu Osva, Different Layers of Materiality in Contemporary Painting. Reidar Särestöniemi Symposium, University of Lapland
  • 2010. Anu Osva, Yakutian Cow in North-East Siberia and her Western Relatives – An artistic investigation on symbiotic relationship between domesticated cattle and humans. Art and Technoscience– conference, Academy of Fine Arts in Finland, in collaboration with the Finnish Bioart Society and Pixelache festival. Helsinki
  • -2009. Anu Osva, Löytöretki Koillis-Siperiaan – taiteilijana monitieteisessä tutkimushankkeessa, Aleksanteri-instituutin Kulttuurifoorumi, Helsingin yliopisto
  • 2009. Anu Osva, Taiteen ja tieteen laboratorioissa. Havahdus seminaari, Tieteiden talo. Helsinki, järj. Luonnontukijoiden seura Vanamo
  • 2009. Anu Osva, Ars Bioarctica, ENERGY Scientific and artistic, utopian an critical visions. International Art and Science Conference and Media Art Exhibition, Riga
  • 17.5.2009. Anu Osva Symbiotic human animal relationship, Yakutian Cattle – an intersecting art & science approach, presentation in the Japanese-Finnish Conference on Pastoralism. Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.
  • 5.5.2009. Anu Osva ja Leo Granberg, ”Löytöretki Siperiaan 2000-luvulla”. Yleisöluento Mikkelin yliopistokeskuksessa.
  • 13.11.2008 Leo Granberg and Anu Osva, “Research excursion to Siberia in the 21st Century, science&art project on Yakutian Cattle“, Lecture 2h, Arctic Studies, University of Lapland
  • 17.10.2008. Leo Granberg ja Anu Osva: Presentation in the Conference: In Transition Russia. Russian transion in the eyes of Yakutian Cattle, Art&Science perspective. Ekaterinburg State University, Russia.
  • 2007. Leo Graberg, Juha Kantanen ja Anu Osva järjestivät FAO:n kotieläintuotantoyksikön kanssa seminaarin “Yakutian cattle in a changing socio-economic environment”. Aiheena oli erityisesti Jakutiankarjan geneettinen merkitys ja sen säilymisen sosio-ekonomiset ja kulttuuriset edellytykset. FAO:n päämaja, Rooma
  • 2007. Anu Osva Jakutski Skot – Löytöretki Siperiaan 2000-luvulla ja , Suomen Rooma Instituutti, Villa Lante, Rooma. Jakutiankarja-projektista ja taiteellisesta työskentelystä
  • 19.4.2007. Anu Osva ”Jakutski Skot – löytöretki Siperiaan 2000-luvulla” näyttelyn taustaa ja kokemuksia kenttämatkalla. Kutsuseminaari, jossa tutkimusryhmän jäsenet kertoivat ja keskustelivat Siperiasta ja jakutiankarjasta. Galleria Katariina

Articles and Publications, selected

  • M.-H. Li, A. Osva and J. Kantanen, Supporting conservation of livestock biodiversity through multidisciplinary studies: a case study of the Yakutian cattle in Siberia, the far east of Russia, Animal Genetic Resources, FAO-United Nations,  50/2012
  • Anu Osva, Ars Bioarctica – unelma luonnontieteiden ja taiteen yhteistyöstä Arktiksessa, Luonnontutkija -lehti 5/2009
  • Anu Osva The symbiotic human animal relationship: An artistic investigation of Yakutian cattle, in ’Good to Eat, Good to Live with’, Animals and Nomads in Northern Eurasia and Africa. Northeast Asian Study Series X, 2010
  • Anu Osva, Epilogue, pp. 199-203; In Sakha Ynaga – Cattle of the Yakuts, (Granberg, Leo, Juha Kantanen and Katriina Soini, eds.) Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 355. Helsinki 2009.
  • Juha Kantanen, Innokenti Ammosov, Meng-Hua Li, Anu Osva ja Ruslan Popov, A cow of the permafrost, pp. 19-44; In Sakha Ynaga – Cattle of the Yakuts, (Granberg, Leo, Juha Kantanen and Katriina Soini, eds.) Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 355. Helsinki 2009.
  • Leo Granberg, Katriina Soini, Anu Osva ja Juha Kantanen, A new millennium for the Yakutian Cattle, pp. 189-198; In Sakha Ynaga – Cattle of the Yakuts, (Granberg, Leo, Juha Kantanen and Katriina Soini, eds.) Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 355. Helsinki 2009.