Lauri Laine (born 1946) is one of the leading Finnish artists of his generation. His unique style has breathed new life into painting, with his works always having used art historical heritage, and thus general cultural heritage, as their sounding board. A bygone age, old art and architecture all meet contemporary and new art. You can strongly feel the presence of the perspective of time, layers reaching out into the past - and the strata they have created. In this exhibition he shows examples of two series of works, Figures and Musicians. Their conceptual ground is the female saints painted by the 17th century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán.
In Laine's paintings, female figures are presented in a similar way as in Zurbarán's and they, too, hold various objects in their hands. In general, though, Laine completely recreates the composition of his paintings. He does not imitate or duplicate, yet the impressions left by the Baroque colour palette in his mind are evident in his paintings. From modern art, he has borrowed features from the Cubistic idiom.
Laine's works are painterly studies. Like all artists, he aims to create an entity that speaks to its viewers. His objective is to convey a certain ambience and spirit in his paintings. He varies this theme from one painting to the next. He explores the way that colours and forms, light and shade work together rhythmically and create an overall impression of various figures and their substance in space. Each figure has its own personal character the idea of which is in Laine's mind when he starts painting. He paints lifesize figures that seem to have a solid presence.
In the past few years, Laine's paintings have become more figurative and they have lost some of their strict geometry. The freely-flowing folds of the figures' skirts alternate with the clear lines of the instruments. The technique is also more varied. The painted surfaces have diverse characters in material terms, they show through each other or emphasise a particular colour. By combining different shapes and surfaces, Laine creates sculptural and rich contacts between the painting and the viewer that appeal to all senses.
Figurativism and abstraction have approached each other in Laine's paintings. He has generalised all representation in his work, and it is the viewer's discovery that makes the references recognisable. With the lack of external identification, Laine's steady and noble figures are like witnesses to another invisible internal world, or a spiritual world of saints. The artist has been acting as a director, staging a play that creates tension between the work and the audience.
To accompany the exhibition, Parvs publishing will launch a book featuring Lauri Laine's series of paintings from 2013-14, Figures and Musicians. The article for the book was written by Professor of Art History Altti Kuusamo.