The career of Onni Oja (1909–2004) had a significant impact on Finnish art. He is known for his clear and peaceful rural and urban landscapes, but also for many monumental public works. Works by Onni Oja are found in museum collections, but also in many private homes. They are also a familiar sight in the showrooms of art dealers and at auctions.
Oja painted character studies, still lifes and commissioned portraits, but he also did book covers and illustrations. Neither was the literary medium foreign for the painter: he articulated his message verbally with the same assurance and clarity as he did visually. This is attested to by the many articles Oja wrote about art for art magazines and other publications, and also his book Piirtämisen taito (‘The Art of Drawing’), which was first published in 1957 and was one of the first textbooks on drawing to appear in Finnish.
Onni Oja studied at the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki, and continued his studies in Paris and Rome. In his younger years he worked as a decorative painter and graphic designer. He had a long career as a pedagogue, working as teacher and senior teacher at the Institute of Industrial Art (1951–1972) and as teacher in the Finnish language workers’ institute in Helsinki. He was awarded the title of professor in 1979.