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About Marja PiriläAbout the Work Marja Pirilä’s atmospheric series “Like a Breath in Light” casts a spell on the viewer. The images present Finland’s lake Nässijärvi in the many moods of natural light. They can be seen as emotional landscapes, whose essence evokes memories of Caspar David Friedrich and the romantic idea that nature presents a mirror to the soul. Clouds, water, and endless expanse
BACKGROUND INFORMATIONAbout the Work
Marja Pirilä’s atmospheric series “Like a Breath in Light” casts a spell on the viewer. The images present Finland’s lake Nässijärvi in the many moods of natural light. They can be seen as emotional landscapes, whose essence evokes memories of Caspar David Friedrich and the romantic idea that nature presents a mirror to the soul.
Clouds, water, and endless expanse – everything seems to blend, almost dissolve, into one another. The topographic features of the landscape recede and the image space is flooded with a light that shines, depending on the time of day, in glowing red, warm honey yellow or melancholy blue-violet. These emotionally-charged photographs, captured by the artist using a self-made pinhole camera, appear almost as abstract paintings. The monochrome aesthetic and the use of light as a distinct artistic tool lead to parallels with the Colour Field Painting of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.
Despite their art-historical allusions, Pirilä’s works are deeply personal. As we gaze upon the landscapes, we are invited to project our own interpretations, and to follow their mood in a meditative trance.
About the Artist
Finnish artist Marja Pirilä gained international recognition for her diverse use of the camera obscura, a tool she has applied to a range of different projects since the 1990s. The theme of her work is always light, whose multi-faceted forms and effects she explores artistically. Her influences include the oeuvre of Cuban photographer Abelardo Morell, who turns darkened rooms into cameras obscura – an approach Pirilä adopts and expands to the concept of mental landscapes in her series “Interior/Exterior”. To Pirilä, working with light also means working with the influence of light on people, on their emotions and their dreams.
Pirilä’s oeuvre is dedicated to the camera obscura and its miniature form - the pinhole camera. The artist explores the possibilities of the medium in her works, focusing her attention not only on the images she creates, but also on the construction of these viewing machines. Together with photographer Petri Nuutinen, Pirilä has built numerous cameras obscura, which can be found on display in both museums and public spaces.
The principles of optics, recognized since antiquity, served as an aid to the renaissance painters who sought to portray perspective. In 1826, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produced the world’s very first photograph with the help of a camera obscura. As a metaphor for vision, this historical medium has lost none of its relevance, even in contemporary art. It allows artists to explore and experiment with human perception itself. Not least, this gentle, slowed-down method of image production serves as a counterbalance to the instant photography of the digital age.
1957 Born in Rovaniemi, Finland Studied at the University of Helsinki and the University of Arts and Design, Helsinki, Finland Lives and works in Tampere, Finland