LAURI LAINEAlba 13.3.2021 – 11.4.2021
Alba, a series of works comprising eight large paintings, forms the backbone of the painter Lauri Laine’s exhibition. Female figures play a prominent role in the paintings, which evoke the history of painting. Laine has taken his main influences from 17th century Baroque painting in Italy and Spain. He worked on the Alba series in Madrid in autumn 2018 and spring 2020.
Laine’s work process is complex. He reconstructs human figures in his painting. He first makes observational drawings of old painting and today’s surrounding reality. From these, he progresses to sketches, then smaller paintings and finally to monumental paintings. The female figures in his Alba series have been depicted lifesize. Besides the series, the exhibition features various series of paintings with similar subjects but of a different nature. Laine has pursued a more intimate spirit in his smaller paintings and a more monumental spirit in the large ones. When painting, Laine employs modern techniques and paints in his own way.
Laine has long painted female figures. He has gradually migrated from cubist style and angular figures towards increasingly more natural ones. The lavish attire is now draped gently over the women, the arch of the arms and neck curve adroitly and the dark hair has been tied together with a single hair clip. The figures have become secularised. The female figures have now stepped into the open air to stand in an indicative landscape, whereas they were earlier portrayed indoors. Alba, the name of the exhibition, is a nod to Francisco de Goya’s paintings depicting the Duchess of Alba where the figures are depicted in an open landscape.
Laine’s paintings are reminiscent of cinematic scenes that create grand themes for historical costume dramas. The paintings repeat the way of depicting the human figure that is widely attributable to contemporary art. The women’s faces are turned away from the viewer, with the gaze directed somewhere into the distance. The viewer sees these as an outsider and mirrors their own thoughts in them.
Even though Laine depicts female figures in all his paintings, each of them has its own character. The figures seem to move from one painting to another. Their essence changes with their position. The weight shifts from one leg to the other, the faces turn from the shade towards the light, the hands outstretched to hold an object. The gestures are nuanced and the movements inconspicuous. The viewer’s body and movements react to the figure in the painting, its movements and presence.
The exhibition name, Alba, also refers to the Latin word for white. With the word Alba, Laine refers not to the monochrome, but to the spectrum of colours - where the colours are, however, in equilibrium with each other. To the viewer, the female figures appear as a delightful entity vibrating with different nuances of shapes, colours, light, shadow and textures, which inevitably capture the viewer’s gaze. Laine has harnessed the subject down to the last stroke in his paintings as he explores the painterly possibilities.
Lauri Laine (b. 1946) ranks among the leading Finnish painters of his generation. He has long worked not just in Finland, but also in Rome. Laine’s work has always been informed by an intimate familiarity with art history. In 2020, he was awarded the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland. Laine has held numerous solo exhibitions in Finland and abroad and has taken part in many Finnish and international group exhibitions, including the São Paulo Biennial (1989) and the Beijing Biennial (2017 and 2019). His work can be found in major Finnish public collections and in collections such as the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Malmö Art Museum.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Galleria Heino and Parus Verus will publish a book featuring Lauri Laine’s series of paintings from 2018-2020. The article for the book was written by art historian, art critic and curator Maaria Salo.