The past ten years Luoma has been continually working with entirely abstract visual content through the medium of photography. His method involves a calculated, analogue technique of repeatedly exposing a single negative to lines of light, sometimes up to thousands of times, thus generating what has been denoted as “abstract photographs of time”. Photographic function becomes content itself: what Luoma’s works have in common is their self-referentiality, in that they point towards the moment of exposure -the process of their own creation- in medium-reflexive way. Though intricately systemized parameters and number sequences are determined by Luoma prior to the exposures, he never knows what the final result will look like. His works are constituted by their inherent tension of order and chance.
When we look at the new works on display from Luoma’s current series Adaptations (2015), we are at first surprised to learn that they are modeled on pieces by Pablo Picasso and Diego Velázquez. However, the longer we look, the more apparent do the Ladies of Avignon, the Woman with Mandolin, and the Maids of Honor, originally created by the two Spanish painters in the early 20th and mid-17th centuries respectively, take form before our eyes, somewhere in between effects of trompe l’oeil and Magic Eye. Following his previous solo exhibition Variations on a Standard of Space at Gallery Taik Persons in 2013, Luoma’s aim “to produce images that visualize the passage of time” continues to be of particular interest. This is not only reflected in the technical process of his time-based approach. The chosen Picasso works as models retrace a specific time passage of nearly four decades within that painter’s oeuvre: an ever-present, increasingly penetrating inquiry of abstract form. Luoma’s series, then, presents an abstraction of those abstractions. The series title, Adaptations, further indicates the link between Picasso and the older Velázquez. It references Picasso’s own series of adaptations made in 1957, comprising 58 versions of Velázquez’ painting Maids of Honor. Luoma thus gives us a hint towards his personal definition of adapting: just like Picasso “made slight changes” in his interpretations, so as to “isolate and highlight” select aspects of Velázquez work, Luoma in turn makes use of Picasso’s motifs and compositions with his primary focus on handling “light as space and space as a source of light”. Luoma’s Woman with Mandolin is a vivid example: recalling Picasso’s rendering of 1910, we can see how the centered composition of the human figure is transformed into what we perceive as a black void in Luoma’s version. This void, however, does not “substitute” the figure. Showing the unexposed area of film, it is substance itself, and merely an inversion of light-space relations. Similarly, Luoma explains that the colors in his works are not meant to illustrate the original painting’s characters; rather, they signify occupied spaces and spatial constellations among an organized sequence of events taking place on the canvas.
Next to Luoma’s Adaptations, the exhibition shows two new works (2015) from his series of photographs Idea of a Cube Randomized to the Plane. His Prototype wire-sculptures, which are 3-D interpretations of this series’ “flat cubes”, are further shown in form of black-and-white photographs. The series provided a basis from which Luoma developed his Variations on a Standard of Space focusing on “Cézanne’s geometric solids” of cube, cone, and sphere. The works present studies dealing with Cubism-inspired themes of interpreting, transferring, and transforming shape and volume between two- and three-dimensional form, format, and medium. The persistent organizing, deconstructing, and rebuilding of visual space is actually a never-ending adaptation of space.
- Shao-lan Hertel
I move freely between the sun and the moon.
I go further
I plunge into black holes and emerge intact.
I ride on comets, count galaxies.
I’m on speaking terms with lights-years.
“I plunge into black holes and emerge intact” is the continuation in the series of group shows showing new positions in photography, within the Gallery program of conceptually rigorous artistic practitioners. The summer show takes its point of departure in a poem by the Lebanese-American poet, essayist and visual artist, Etel Adnan, whose thoughts on the importance of light and luminosity, abstraction and consciousness will form the core of the display. Placing viewers in a realm of visual perceptual experience, the exhibition explores contemporary abstraction in photography and the permanence of light: its cosmic origins, multifaceted uses and atmospheres, which are highlighted through five different approaches of singular artists.
Niko Luoma (1970) is interested not in what is in front of the camera, but what is inside it. He uses light as the raw material of his highly analytical photographic approach. For Luoma, light is an active matter, which he ‘contains’ through a calculated, analogue technique of exposing a single negative to lines of light, sometimes up to thousands of times. Niko Luoma’s new relief work not only illustrates the complex methodology of his photographic process, but also traces the ability of light to unfold forms otherwise hidden to the naked eye.
Ola Kolehmainen (1964) uses the capability of light to reveal surfaces, forms and colours. For Kolehmainen, architecture is a starting point and source of inspiration for his work. He examines space, light and color, and through this reflects upon and questions how one looks at things and why. On display in the exhibition are his Milano Wall Paintings, in which the façade is reduced to abstract forms and blocks of color. As in Adnan’s poem, Kolehmainen “goes further” and frames our perception to see only light on a surface.
In Adam Jeppesen’s (1978) body of work light, sometimes clear but most times misty, is an essential component in his atmospheric contemplations. The artist has spent the better part of his life traveling, searching, and in this process brings to the fore the very essence of being and forgetting, with an emotional and aesthetic clarity afforded only by solitude. His focus is on landscapes and our fleeting relationship to it.
Niina Vatanen (1977) has in her most recent series, Archival Studies used a photo collection from the Finnish museum of Photography as a point of departure for her study of the skeletons of analogue photography. The works on display show rare archival photographic paper, which have been exposed to nothing but different shades of sunlight through time. In these works, sunlight plays an active role in manifesting time, that, is making it visible.
As in Vatanen’s works Mikko Sinervo (1981) too uses light as a co-author. However, he is more interested in understanding the source of cosmic light. Sinervo asks himself questions about the shape and the size of the cosmos. What do planets look like? Black holes? How fast can a comet fly? Trying to materialize the diversity and distance in infinite space, his photographs invite us into his imaginative exploration. Sinervo attempts to ride on comets, count galaxies. Be on speaking terms with light-years.
Gallery Taik Persons proudly presents Ulla Jokisalo’s solo exhibition How to be both with her newest assemblages and installations.
The artist Ulla Jokisalo cuts, masks, embroiders and perforates image fragments. With needles, pins and thread she attaches and binds together parts of reality, creating her own surrealistic universe. Jokisalo is an architect of images, who through the use of cutouts, highlights opposites and contradictions. In her newest works, the artist mainly uses found and ready made image material, which she combines to create transformational stories about human life.
Strong ties to the history of photography, as well as a keen interest in the photograph as a material, have been essential all through Jokisalo’s almost 40 year career. The artist takes advantage of- and questions- the qualities of the medium; its ability to create an illusion, its function as evidence and as a creator of reality. Jokisalo´s work Noema (Me and My Mother This Year 2013) refers to the term used by Roland Barthes*, who states that the meaning of an image, its noema, rests upon the confirmation of ordinary reality – “This has been”. Noema (2013) is a portrait of a mother and a daughter whose eyes Jokisalo has replaced with her mother’s and her own. These works, of which there are three variations, derive from a work from the 19th century and while the portrait stays the same in all three versions, the viewer encounters the gazes from the time. The pins on the background and on the daughter’s blouse try to fix time in its place - a moment and memory unchanged. However, the change of the eyes, a symbol of soul and perception, refers to the constant movement of time. A movement we cannot stop, not even with pins or photographs.
Through surrealistic exploration, Jokisalo is interested in the different layers of the psychological idea of man, unconsciousness and the innumerable possibilities of our imagination. According to the artist there is no reality free from make-believe and fantasy and the real palpable world is perceived through these. In Jokisalo’s surreal world, fairytale figures, antique fables, exotic creatures as well as fashion models of the 50s and 60s all face each other. Referring to the historical tradition of using animals and metamorphoses as symbols of identity, in Jokisalo´s newest series “Collection of Headless women” the animals take over. The beholder doesn´t meet the eye of the posing model, but instead under the cape of the Little Red Riding Hood glimmers the gaze of the beast. Nature takes hold of the situation and invites the viewer to see humanity through the other, with distant outlines, with different appearances, with the gaze of the other.
Jokisalo plays with both images and words. The Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) has greatly inspired Jokisalo’s mystical poetic language. Not only are multifaceted wordplays often lying hidden in the titles, but her oeuvre is also structured around its own alphabet, including scissors, eyes, threads, needles and pins, embroidery, hair, hands, scraps, shoes, clothing and fabrics.
The materiality of Jokisalo´s works transcend the haptic and bodily experience, with the materials embodying memories and associations. From the pictorial surface rise three-dimensional images, not only reflecting the fragmental ideas of man but also visualizing the endless possibilities of a dreamlike world, in where small and vulnerable feet try to reach the sky. In fairytales everything is possible. In Jokisalo’s works, as in black and white photography, light and shadow form the core of possibilities. The artist is reflecting on how the absent can seem present, how to be human with an animal mind, how to be weak and still strong, small and enough – How to be both.
Gallery Taik Persons is proud to present Displacement, the first in a series of curated group exhibitions showing new positions by young artists working with (and around) the medium of photography.
The title of the show refers to the distance that exists between experience and memory, and the translation of one into the other. The works in this exhibition encourage the viewer to think about their points of contact with memory and their emotional and aesthetic experiences. The show questions how these points of contact are preserved in our minds and asks the question: is it possible to exist in two places at the same time? Sensory and finite encounters are articulated through the use of the photographic process with space for materiality in the form of sculptures, collages and film.
The exhibition is centered around the works of four artists, who each propose alternative configurations of spatio/temporal displacement. All the artists in this show share an interest in conceptualizing landscapes, while at the same time proposing associations between emotional and physical experiences within these landscapes, and thus displacing these encounters, in time and place.
Structures of disintegration and decay as indicators of the inevitable, progressive passage of linear time define many of the works of Mikko Rikala. The themes of being drawn between diverging powers and elements, between the sea and the sky, matter and air, serve as a metaphor for the awareness of being part of a cosmic whole. Drawing attention to the origins of objects, his photographs and sculptures bear the traces of their provenance while being inscribed by the passage of time.
The large scale abstract works of Jaana Maijala can be read as a map. Not a representation of parts of the earth’s surface in a geographical sense, but as records of her immediate emotional impressions of places. Her drawings seek to preserve situations through the rhythm of the pencil, an unconscious catharsis, which is then sealed through the act of photographing. In the work White Nights (2010) the artist has in her own words created “an altarpiece to the Nordic summers”.
With an interest in things as carriers of human traces, Tanja Koljonen continues to work with objets trouvés, such as books, photographs and fragments of written text, to explore the delicate line that exists between instinct and reason. Koljonen’s playful approach invites the viewer to interact and co-constitute the artworks, and thus displaces and affirms them as an open ended experience.
Kalle Kataila’s work takes its starting point in a live webcam feed from a beach in Hawaii, which he is watching from his studio in Helsinki. The most perceptive thinkers agree on a new paradigm- and a new presence- brought about with the advancements of digital technology, that enable us to “see” what is taking place all around the world. However, this appealing idea and voyeuristic exercise, poses certain philosophical questions. For is reality apprehended through the consciousness of it, and does it exist regardless of our participation in it?
Gallery TAIK Persons is highly pleased to present Helsinki School artist Jyrki Parantainen with a selection of works from his early series Earth (1989–1991). Parantainen, who played a key role as to the Helsinki School during its founding years, continues to be one of the School’s driving forces.
Always seeking to further his conceptual approaches and working methods in the production of artworks, Parantainen’s creative process has undergone significant transformations throughout his now over twenty-year long career. While older works were dedicated to photography and installation in characteristically large-scale formats, more recent works as shown in the exhibition Between Heaven and Earth (2012) departed entirely from the former medium and testified a new tendency towards small-scale objects. A continuous red line in Parantainen’s oeuvre is the importance of conceptualization and preparation in producing a new work, both mentally and materially. Critical introspection and methodical accuracy are crucial aspects to this process, which Parantainen likens to writing a script for a film. The implementation of the work reveals itself as a stage on which personal emotional endeavor, precise technique, and perfect timing engage in a forceful intimate dialogue, palpably described by Parantainen as a form of “wrestling”.
As an image, the artistic act of wrestling is particularly applicable in the case of the Earth series, which, consisting of landscape photographs taken exclusively during the nighttime, presented a challenge of sorts to Parantainen’s “strong and personal fright towards darkness”. With reference to the visual and conceptual traditions of Land Art, or Earth Art, beginning in the 1960s in North America and Europe, Parantainen followed the idea of isolating specific natural landscapes and topographies for use as sites of artistic production. A basic notion of Land Art is to create artworks by means of the present geographical and material conditions within a given natural space. That is, rather than placing an artwork into a natural landscape, it is through nature and natural material itself (rocks, branches, water) that the creation of a site-specific artwork is achieved. Land Art practitioners like Robert Smithson (1938–1973) and Michael Heizer (b. 1944) had sought to express a social critique of the commercialized art gallery system, thus relocating the sites of their artistic production to far-off geographical areas; to deserted, ‘unruly’ wastelands, beyond the realm of public exhibition. Though in this sense politically inclined, Land Art activists explicitly distanced themselves from “ecological” endeavors as later pursued in Environmental Art or Nature Art of the 1970s/-80s, stating radically that Land Art was “about art, not landscape” (Heizer).
In the Earth series, Parantainen’s artistic intervention into the Finnish landscape takes place in a highly individuated way. Indeed, the sites are chosen and staged as subjects within the idiom, or genre, of Land Art. The work process involves a careful integration of various organic media, ranging from fire-lit torches, over liquids like milk, to dry materials like chalkstone. Unlike traditional approaches, however, Parantainen’s landscapes are captured and reproduced visually in form of photographs, thus adding a new aspect of mobility to the otherwise site-bound location of the physical landscape. Though perhaps not concerned with issues of “environmental sustainability” in the conventional sense of the word, Parantainen’s Earth works do fulfill an ecological effect of recycling, with regard to traditions of using and representing nature in art.
– Shao-lan Hertel