New work by Finnish artist Niko Luoma, one of the most celebrated amongst the Helsinki School of Photography, will on display for the first time in the UK at his second exhibition at Atlas Gallery this autumn. The exhibition will showcase large-scale works from the series ‘Adaptations’ in which Luoma creates striking abstract adaptions of well-known works of art, such as Night Fishing at Antibes and Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso, Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh and Vase of flowers by Joannes Fyt, through the repeated exposure of a negative to light. Luoma has developed a completely unique process and has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting contemporary photographers working today.
My material is light. The work focuses on energy rather than matter. My work is about the process as much as about the result.
Luoma began to create his unique photographs in the late 1990s and for the past ten years he has produced abstract images, through the exposure of a negative to light – sometimes thousands of times. He maps the photographs in advance with intricate drawings and precise calculations, controlling the works inception with scientific precision. The results, however, are dependent on the inner workings of an analogue camera which can never fully be under Luoma’s control. There is always an element of chance in the final realisation of the image. His monumental works are highly unique, visual records of their own creation, capturing both the scientific and unexpected nature of photography.
Luoma’s ‘Adaptions’ are created in his studio with analogue techniques and are a continuation of his previous works utilising multiple exposures. He has held a long-held interest with space and composition, and this is combined with an exploration of memory in these adaptions of well-known paintings. Even though the original paintings Luoma uses as his source material are often a cliché, he has played with the spatial possibilities that appear when the works are fragmented into pieces, and assembled back together again. When successful, each adaption creates a surprising dialogue with the original artwork. On first glance, the references are surprising, but the longer and more closely the viewer looks, the more apparent the similarities. The effect is a kaleidoscopic trompe l’oeil.
The paintings selected by Luoma for this series are often those in which the original artist themselves adapted over time to create multiple versions, altering composition and colour, interpreting and re-interpreting. With each adaptation, the work would remain recognisable and related to the first version, maintaining the original motifs and primary use of colours, but each new iteration would move the work closer to the essence of the artist’s vision. Luoma takes this one step further, and pares the works down to just form and colour. The ‘Adaptions’ are not intended to be a representation of the elements of the original paintings, rather, they signify the occupied and voided spaces, spatial constellations and sequence of events taking place on the canvas.
Niko Luoma works in Helsinki and Trieste. After his studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (1998) and the New England School of Photography, Boston (1995), Luoma graduated from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2003 where he taught as a visiting lecturer from 2003 – 2013. He started a full-time position as associate profession in 2015. He has held recent solo exhibitions in New York, Berlin, London, Madrid, Salzburg and Helsinki as well as numerous group exhibitions in USA, Asia and Europe since 1995. His work is held in collections including those of the Finnish National Gallery, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Danish National Museum of Photography. His most recent book ‘Niko Luoma: And Time is no longer an Obstacle’ was published by Hatje Cantz in September 2012.