Tove’s painting Lynx Boa exemplifies her new sense of self-esteem.
‘I look like a cat in my yellow fur coat, with my cold slanted eyes and my bun,’ Tove writes, describing the painting.
The bestial features, cats’ eyes and lynx fur draped around her neck underline the artist’s power and independence. The pinstripe suit jacket peeping out from under the fur reminds us of Tove’s maturity alongside her male counterparts, too. This work is considered to be Tove’s ‘coming of age’ painting, through which she asserts her independence and openly dares to say ‘No!’ to old demands and the nagging guilt lingering from the money worries of her childhood. Around the time of this painting, physician Rafael Gordin had also encouraged Tove to distance herself from the artistic ideals and traditions of the Lallukka Artists’ Home.
Tove Jansson’s first solo exhibition – on 3 October 1943 at Leonard ‘Bäxis’ Bäxbacka’s gallery – was a sign of Tove’s professional independence.
‘The decision to have a solo exhibition is as important as if I’d decided to get married!’ Tove wrote in the spring of 1943 after agreeing on the exhibition with Bäxbacka.
Tove made an important move to her tower studio in Ullanlinnakatu street in 1944. From then on, this studio would be the birthplace of all of Tove’s art for the rest of her long life.
For several years in the mid-1940s, Tove enjoyed a close relationship with the philosopher Atos Wirtanen. Atos was fiery, energetic and positive, and they shared the same views on the nature of work. However, they didn’t see eye to eye on the nature and essence of love. They discussed marriage and even children many times, but Tove remained adamant.
‘This war has taught me at least one thing. Never boys. Never soldiers. Maybe this has become an obsession – but I’ve seen too much to dare,’ she wrote to Eva.
It was while she was dating Atos that Tove wrote the early Moomin books and drew the first Moomin comic strip.