Gallery Taik Persons

Helsinki School

Cyclic Repetitions

Kristján Guðmundsson | Tanja Koljonen | Rainer Paananen | Finnbogi Pétursson |  Mikko Rikala | Ragna Róbertsdóttir

Opening: Friday, 23 November 2018, 6 to 9 pm
Exhibition: 24 November 2018 – 16 February 2019

Thirty years ago, I had the privilege of introducing and curating a minimalistic conceptual exhibition by a group of Icelandic artists in my gallery in Helsinki, Finland. What I didn’t realize then, was how that first show would set a standard for future Finnish generations in how they define their conceptual approach to physics, nature and language. Three decades later, Gallery Taik Persons is proud to announce another collaborative exhibition Cyclic Repetitions, a group show that combines the Icelandic artists Ragna Róbertsdóttir, Kristján Guðmundsson, (both present in the first exhibition), and Finnbogi Pétursson, with their younger Finnish contemporaries, Mikko Rikala, Tanja Koljonen and Rainer Paananen.

As a professor at Aalto University, I’ve been using this Icelandic minimalistic approach as a cornerstone in my teaching, setting the parameters from which the Helsinki School would eventually evolve. All these artists share a similar approach in utilizing their chosen elements as a means for focussing on what is essential in opening up the essence of the objects’ innermost being. Sound, light, earth, graphite, and standard shapes, all form the basic components by which Cyclic Repetitions defines its Nordic roots into how this form of conceptual thinking has evolved from one generation to the next.

Ragna Róbertsdóttir, a leading figure in Icelandic minimal conceptualism, re-interprets the physics of the raw indigenous substances that form the Icelandic landscape. Volcanic lava, mud, seashells, rock, salt and turf, do not just inspire her, they form the very basis of her creations. Finnbogi Petursson, creates a bridge between science and nature, examining the very essence of light, sound and energy through sparse installations that utilize one substance to investigate the properties of another. Kristján Guðmundsson, the first Icelandic winner of the Swedish Carnegie Art Award, works with shapes and forms in accordance with mathematical principles, utilizing industrial and architectural, as well as natural materials. Rainer Paananen, something of a renaissance man, combines science, photography and music in his experiments with photosensitive paper - a means of capturing two-dimensional renditions of his musical performances. Repetition is the method by which Mikko Rikala traces the passage of time, seeking the silence in between, in an attempt to find new perspectives on how to perceive the nature of distance. Finally, Tanja Koljonen explores the ‘paradox of humanity’, combining language, our medium for reasoning and rational thought processes, and found objects of no apparent order.

Similar to the Fluxus movement, rather than sharing a distinctive visual style, the six artists share an approach that can be characterized by the application of aesthetics, in which the concept is as important as the visual expression. This mindset is what binds the Helsinki School artists together and through Cyclic Repetitions, we glance back at how it all began-thirty years ago.

Timothy Persons

Gallery Taik Persons would like to express their gratitude towards the Icelandic Embassy for their support in this exhibition.

Sanna Kannisto – Wanderer, Observer and Conveyor

Opening: 14 September 2018, 6–9 pm Exhibition: 15 September – 17 November 2018

Gallery Taik Persons is delighted to present Sanna Kannisto‘s second solo exhibition Wanderer, Observer and Conveyor as part of the European Month of Photography Berlin.

Sanna Kannisto works on the verge of experiences in nature. Sometimes that means windy weather on a rugged peninsula in Hanko, Finland, and at other times spending weeks in the rain forest on the other side of the Pacific. The force that urges her on is found in nature: birds, plants and landscapes. Sanna Kannisto has photographed animal, plant and landscape subjects over a couple of decades. She has developed her own methods of creating images, which are often titled taxonomically. Her works convey a sense of concentration and peace, which is a basic requirement for working with nature. Kannisto is interested in humankind’s desire to control nature and to study and gather information. She also sees herself as a kind of collector, who adds one species after another to her own collection. “In the past, scientists and artists were sometimes the same person. I’m interested in working from both roles,” says Kannisto. As an artist, she has the freedom to embrace many species and many kinds of subjects. “The subject doesn’t even have to be particularly fine or colourful. The everyday and the ordinary are interesting. What’s essential is how you manage to take the picture,” Kannisto says. White background

Kannisto’s works often resemble still lifes. Nature is presented against a white background. The subject may be a branch, a frog, a butterfly, a hummingbird in flight or a nectar bat feeding. Flying before us are also birds that frequent Finnish latitudes such as a blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), a European robin (Erithacu rubecula), a red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) and a goldcrest (Regulus regulus). Detaching a plant or animal from its environment shows it in a new light: even a grey bird is revealed as quite a star when the image size increases and the subject is bathed in light in a field studio. [...] Kannisto explains that in a photography situation she has to operate quickly as the birds must be released rapidly. Some birds perch on a branch immediately while others are more cautious. Often a connection and momentary trust are created though, as birds are curious and intelligent. Although the images are constructed and planned, the situations can change in a moment. They often involve happenstance and surprises, as the animals behave according to their own thoughts. For instance the waxwings, siskins and bullfinches began to eat in the studio. “Being with a bird is utterly unique. It is moving. The gaze of a bird is mysterious. I look at the bird and it looks at me. For a moment we have some kind of shared thought. It’s a kind of mutual examination,” Kannisto says.

A desire to handle and show Ever since she was a child, Kannisto has had a desire to examine nature at close hand. For her, holidays and weekends spent at a cottage in rural Kanta-Häme meant adventures in the wild. Kannisto collected insects and frogs. “I’ve always had a desire to take things into my hands and study them up close, to look at the details,” she says. Her own desire for close examination has grown into a need to show others. Subjects that fascinate and affect the artist are turned into works of art. Photography is thinking, sharing a view of the world. Sometimes it is also concrete co-existence with one’s subject. For instance, when Kannisto was photographing butterflies, she bred them as well. The curtains of her studio were covered with elephant hawk-moth eggs, and she even took larvae along with her on summer holiday trips. There is a strong history of depicting nature in many artists’ output. Looking at Kannisto’s work takes one’s thoughts in many directions at once. On one hand, there is English artist Marianne North (1830–90), who travelled around the world from Brazil to Australia and New Zealand and painted plants in their natural environments. [...] At the other extreme there is Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932), systematic collector of plants who photographed thousands of plants and their details against grey or black backgrounds. [...] Both of these had distinct and unique expressive languages of their own. While working from quite different starting points, they created settings for nature to shine. Kannisto, too, directs lights, picks out and shows us flora and fauna from different perspectives. Our era is however completely different from that of North or Blossfeldt. In their day, the wildernesses were still unexplored. Now there are hardly any such areas remaining. Kannisto talks about how nowadays humans decide where nature may exist and where it is removed. “It should be possible to protect nature from us,” Kannisto says.

Landscapes Sanna Kannisto is a wanderer, an observer and a conveyor. On one hand, she shows nature through its details, and on the other hand through its entirety. The scale ranges from a bird’s eye to an entire forest. A landscape may just as well be found in South America as in Hanko. What is essential is presence. Kannisto speaks of routines related to embracing a landscape, of walking, seeking ideas and tiring oneself out physically. Experiencing a landscape involves time—the change of seasons, the constant transformation and cycles of nature. For Kannisto, seasons mean surrender, melancholy and waiting, but also excited amazement. It is all interesting. “I’d like to spend more time in the forest. For instance in winter the Helsinki districts of Myllypuro and Viikki have a fine greyness, asceticism and austerity. When everything else is expressionless, the fog, the drops of water and the snow on the ground are emphasised. When the sun appears amid the greyness, it’s a wonderful moment,” Kannisto says. [...]

Text ‘Sanna Kannisto: The gaze of a bird’ by Susanna Pettersson from the catalogue ‘The Brothers von Wright. Art, Science and Life’, Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery, 2017 Published with the permission of the author and Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery

Sanna Kannisto was born in Hämeenlinna, Finland, in 1974. She lives and works in Helsinki. Kannisto graduated from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2002. Her works have been exhibited in international institutions such as The Museum of Photography Seoul (Seoul, 2018), Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, WA, 2017), Ateneum Art Museum (Helsinki, 2017), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2013), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki, 2013), and Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2010). Gallery Taik Persons will present her most recent works in a solo exhibition as part of The European Month of Photography Berlin in September 2018.

Reflections: From Here to There

Rita Anttila | Elina Brotherus | Ulla Jokisalo | Aino Kannisto |  Anni Leppälä | Kukka-Maria Rosenlund | Miia-Mari Virtanen

Opening: Friday, 29 June 2018, 6 to 9 pm
Exhibition: 30 June – 8 September 2018

Gallery Taik Persons proudly presents it’s upcoming group exhibition Reflections: From Here to There, a selection of six artists who have all been associated with the Helsinki School, spanning four generations beginning in 1995.

This exhibition is a very personal insight into how these artists translate and process their feelings and memories into their own rooms with a view.

It’s said, hindsight is 100 percent true, as we use our experience to see what our eyes can’t. Looking inside ourselves to understand what surrounds our being from one moment to the next, is the challenge we all face throughout our lives. To contemplate the past, future or the present, everybody utilizes a sensibility that’s unique for each individual in their process of maturing and discovering who they are. This exhibition presents six different perspectives in how these selected artists define their concept of identity.

Elina Brotherus, the most celebrated Finnish photographer of her generation, has spent her entire career using herself as the raw material, exposing her strengths and vulnerabilities in the pursuit to interpret the various stages of her own life. Whereas Miia-Mari Virtanen uses her body as a platform to study the fragility of being. Virtanen uses medical imaging and recording techniques to explore the electrical signals that trigger ones heartbeat as the starting point for her photographs. Kukka-Maria Rosenlund on the other hand, uses cycles of time as the main character of her work. This process is based on her interest in the visible and invisible worlds and their borders, that are rooted in her families’ history as a joint collective memory. Another perspective, which reads far more like a poem than a photograph, are Rita Anttila’s images as they capture the very thin balance between who she is, where she comes from and where she dreams to go. Anni Leppälä, who also works in a similar vein of thought, though dramatically differing in the way she reinvents her own history, pictorially unfolds her families female history through the use of several generations’ forgotten clothes, cutouts, toys and ancestral homes. Aino Kannisto has been creating staged photographs of fictive scenes with herself embedded as solitary protagonist for almost twenty years now. Her compositions convey emblematic situations, constructing complete visual worlds. It is her way of depicting the passage of time and where she is within it. And finally, one of the most inspirational artists who has in her own way influenced all the above throughout her 40 year career is Ulla Jokisalo. Jokisalo, who many consider to be the Louise Bourgeois of the Nordic region, has pursued her sense of storytelling through her approach in defining and defying the various stereotypes that women have been portrayed in from her earliest memories to the present.

All these artists project a very poetic touch in their realization of what anticipation to contemplation looks like from the inside looking out.

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Niko Luoma – Content is a Glimpse of Something

Opening: 27 April 2018, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 28 April – 23 Juni 2018

On the occasion of Gallery Weekend Berlin, Gallery Taik Persons has the privilege and pleasure to introduce Niko Luoma‘s most recent works in the exhibition Content is a Glimpse of Something.

The title of the show stems from an interview between Willem de Kooning and David Sylvester from 1960 unfolding the method by which the painter approached his paintings prior to and during the process of realizing them. Luoma, who uses one of de Kooning’s bronze sculptures Head #4 as a subject piece in the exhibition, was drawn to the title by this discussion because of his own fascination for the process of doing, specifically in how it utilizes the act of trial and error as a way to unleash the unexpected. Luoma‘s uniqueness is based around his system-based experiments where the negative becomes a record for its own realization, for the compositions of overlapping planes of color and dimensionality. In his most recent series Adaptations, he reinterprets masterpieces from art history, spanning his inspirations from Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower series (1887–89) to the iconic swimming pool paintings by David Hockney from the 1960s.

„I choose my paintings in terms of how interesting they are in regards to their space within: the direction of the lines and the elements contained within,“ Luoma states. He is no longer interested in what‘s going on in front of the camera but what‘s going on inside it. The content of his work is all about light as it touches the film. The exposure becomes his dance, revealing the music from which he is inspired. He translates space by using light through multiple repetitions over the duration of time. His work is very much like jazz: “First you compose a theme, then move to improvisation and the unknown, then back to the theme to complete the performance.“ Luoma says. Influenced by the experimental music of John Coltrane and Alvin Lucier, he incorporates the properties of chance into the process of his working, using it as his fuel to enhance his attraction to the unknown. The works from the series Adaptations are not meant to be direct interpretations but more like extensions to how he feels, hears and senses his choices from art history.

Niko Luoma has played a key role internationally for the past twenty years with his experiments in photographic abstraction through his approach of multiple exposures on the same negative by using light as a raw material. As a senior lecturer at Aalto University, he has pushed the parameters of how we perceive, think and use the photographic experience to create a new visual language, which has established him as a true innovator of analogue photography.

Riitta Päiväläinen – River Notes

Opening: 16 February 2018, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 17 February – 21 April 2018

Gallery Taik Persons is highly pleased to present Riitta Päiväläinen with her solo exhibition River Notes. Over the past two decades, Päiväläinen’s unique works have become internationally renowned through their idiosyncratic language and style based upon her deep sense for story-telling. Essentially, the visual imagery of Päiväläinen’s compositions can be boiled down to two elements: nature, and textiles. Combining nature and a poetic use of textiles, she creates a stage on which to reenact memories of their passing.The artist’s strongly process-oriented method of weaving together natural landscapes and manmade fabrics reflects an approach both literal and narrative. In the deserted atmospheric vistas she creates, there are lodged intimate stories, told in a language that feels oddly foreign and familiar at once. They evoke a complex range of resonances within the beholder, subtly changing between comfort and protection, and unease and alienation.

For the exhibited works, water sanctuaries surrounded by forests have been intertwined with long, broad ribbons previously cut and sewn together by the artist. In these temporary installations, special emphasis lies on site-specificity. Each location was chosen carefully by Päiväläinen, who traveled through Finland’s woodlands seeking to capture the essence of different places, their characteristic dispositions, and particular moods. Drawing into the given landscape by means of ribbon bands, she enters into a dialogue with the place, aiming to unfurl and expand, and ultimately reveal the inherent natural qualities residing in it.

Päiväläinen’s landscapes animate and make present the fabrics as carriers of human traces; the fabrics in turn achieve to unveil and enhance the landscapes in their essential condition. The intricate, labyrinthine ribbon formations reminiscent of cobwebs and nests appear as if they had grown out of their environment naturally, they seem organically interwoven with it, sometimes even camouflaged. In these works, exterior and interior landscapes are bound together; the title River Notes thus conceivable as diary-like notations taken while traveling in nature: “Landscape is not only a topographical, objective phenomenon. For me, it is personal and subjective. Working with a landscape means going into it: experiencing and sensing the place, finally being one, equal part of it. By bringing the landscape and ribbons together, I create a dialogue–an interaction. My aim is to suggest and bring forth potential stories, mental images and associations.” (Päiväläinen)

The installations however provide only one part of Päiväläinen’s creative process: their arrangements serve as preconceived settings for the photographs then taken to physically frame specific moments and atmospheres in time and space. The works’ titles, often ambiguous, give hints at their underlying themes and meanings, inviting the beholder to access the depicted scenes and open up possible interpretations.

The bipartite work process combining installation and photography reflects double layers of capturing and narrating reality. Indeed, the very theme of reflection–including aspects of echoing and mirroring, illusion and mirage; further, of presence and absence, and the transience and transformation of images–questions the truth of what we see, or believe to see, and the ways in which we do so, whether consciously or subconsciously. In this context, the element of water, and particularly the form reflected on its surface, holds special significance in Päiväläinen’s River Notes. As mirrored images, natural landscape and ribbon mold into a visual unity, seemingly made of the same substance, and yet always at risk of dissolving and vanishing with the slightest ripple of water. The artist’s act, then, of framing the scene through a photograph, further seals together different perspectives of the landscape, both objective and subjective. The resulting picture thus not merely presents a documentation of the temporary site-specific installation, it is moreover a creative translation thereof: “What is real? When wind blows, the view changes continuously. Reflection can disappear in a blink of an eye.” (Päiväläinen)

Shao-Lan Hertel