The Helsinki School
Landscapes and contemplations
Following in the tradition of romantic landscape painting, Kalle Kataila thematizes man, quiescent and motionles, tarying before nature’s grandiose scenery. In more recent works, Kataila not only finds his atmospheric landscapes at spectacular or exotic sites, but also in urban localities. Yet Kataila always shows man in lonely places, under abroad stretch of sky and a low-lying horizon. The artist, from an elevated stand point and from a certain distance, observes his figures seen from the back caught up in nature’s spectacle. In contrast to the German romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich, the head of the figure hardly above the horizon line. Whereas Friedrich submerges his characters mentally in an imaginative heavenly sphere, Kataila’s figure is fully rooted to earth. The pictures look into present-day religion of nature and ask why man seeks out exalted vantage points, and far away natural wonders? Ever since Romanticism, the prerequisite for an enthusiastic delight in nature has been a mastery of, and control over, nature through civilization, a phenomenon at first viewed positively. But more recent photography especialy—starting with American “New Topographics”—has condemned humanity’s way of dealing with nature as being mere consumerism and, shown the wounds that man has inflicted on nature. Different from this movement that molded landscape photography since the 1970s, Kataila does not stylize man openly as an antagonist hostile to nature. More exactly, his figures have a touch of vulnerability, loneliness and deep melancholy about them.
Kalle Kataila (born Helsinki, Finland, 1978) is finishing MA studies in Photography from Helsinki's Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture. He has had solo exhibitions in Japan, Italy, Canada, and Finland, and participated in group shows in South Korea, the U.S., France, Russia, and the U.K., among others. His work is held in the collections of Musée de l'Elysée, Switzerland; Statoil Art Collection, Norway; as well as Finland's Paulo Foundation, OP Bank, Helsinki City Art Museum, and Finnish State art collections.
New Wave Finland: Contemporary Photography from the Helsinki School
January 24 - April 2013
Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America
58 Park Avenue, 38th Street
New York NY 10016