Installation view

Esko Männikkö »Esko Männikkö«

Stockholm, April 28, 2001 - May 24, 2001

Esko Männikkö is well known for his photographs of men living alone in small cottages in the countryside in Finland and for his Mexas works from the border of Texas and Mexico. These works are imbued both with references to classical portraits, where the attributes and the setting are playing an important role, and with a deep respect for the persons depicted. Each work has a carefully selected handcrafted or antique frame that harmonises with the image and sets it apart as something special but also act as a token for folk culture.

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The works exhibited in the gallery are a different type of work. They consist of panorama images, taken either on the artist's travels around the world or in the small villages surrounding his native Oulo. Sometimes the names of the places, such as 'Utajärvi' or 'Sodankylä', remind of the earlier Finnish portraits and what we see are portraits of the actual places devoid of inhabitants.

The panoramas are made into triangular constructions hanging at eye level from the ceiling and one enters by ducking under as the photographs are mounted on the inside. Standing up, one is placed in the middle of a 360 scan of a specific site somewhere in the world. As in Männikkö's works from Finland and from Texas (Mexas) it is the environment and the attributes that are in focus and though the squalid surroundings, the people living there are in control of their own world - a world they have often built by their own hands - and even when themselves are not to be seen their presence is strongly felt. The panoramas show not the standard cosmopolitan environments but a different type of 'Lebenswelt' far away from the white walls of the art world. These images are fresh and immediate but on a closer look one sees how carefully constructed they are, where colour, light and form elevate the chosen sites to a level seldom associated with dilapidated back yards or industrial areas on the fringe of the city. Although these works can be seen as portraits of places, these images point to a will to stress the constructive qualities apparent in the works. However real and almost tangible the rust and the flaking paint, art always represent a construction of reality - not reality itself.

Esko Männikkö is born in 1959 in Pudasjärvi in the northern part of Finland. In 1995 he was recognised as the young artist of the year in Finland. The same year he came into focus of an international audience in after participating in Campo, Venice and after Peter Schjeldahl wrote a brilliant review in Artforum on his works at ARS, Helsinki. Since then he has taken part in numerous international exhibitions such as the Johannesburg Biennale, 1997, Nuit Blanche, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Sao Paulo Biennial, 1998, Photographs 1980 - 1998, Hasselblad Center, Göteborg, in 1999. the Kwangju Biennial, 2000, and more recently in Contemporary Photography II: Anti-Memory, Yokohama Museum of Art, and in Organising Freedom, Moderna Museet, Stockholm. This is his third exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake in Stockholm.

Esko Männikkö, Sodankylä, 1999, detail

Esko Männikkö, Sodankylä, 1999, detail