Lauri Laine 20.1.2024 – 18.2.2024
Enigmas enfolded in drapery
Lauri Laine’s latest series of paintings, Aria and Terra, engage in an inextricably deep but constantly shifting dialogue with the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. Those who follow Laine’s work will be familiar with his intense, ever-evolving relationship with the Renaissance. Nuances speak volumes. Aria – meaning ‘air’– was a term used already during the Renaissance to describe an evocatively expressive style of painting.
The figures in the Aria series are life-sized. Drenched in saturated hues, they inhale the airiness of the surrounding landscape, the background playing a more active role than ever before in Laine’s oeuvre. While the Aria series revels in cephalicity (kefalos = ‘head’), chthonicity is accentuated by the darker backgrounds of the seated figures in the Terra series, who seem rooted solidly to the earth. The vertical cephalic-chthonic axis resonates subtly, as if hidden behind a veil of exuberant colour.
Opposites find balance in the painting Vicenza (2023): the perfect proportionality of the intense hues of the gown begins with the burnt brown crater, rising through the soft tonality of the velvet, finally progressing toward the chromatic spectrum of the rustling silver drapery.
The profiles and postures of the seated figures in the Terra series are more complex than ever before, some even presented in the spiralling figura serpentinata pose. Echoes of Veronese’s colour philosophy resonate throughout the Terra series.
The drapery is rendered in stark brushstrokes, the opulent folds of fabric acquiescing to the dictates of the paintbrush. The emphatic materiality of abstract colour planes coalesces with the evocative rendering of real fabric textures. The outer contours of the silhouettes have grown softer.
Laine uses the alla prima or wet-on-wet technique. Surprising intermediate tones are achieved when wet paint is applied to still-wet underlying layers of paint, invoking the behaviour of real drapery – the colours unfold spontaneously like real folds of fabric. Wet-on-wet layering also lends tonal richness to the sky, producing an airy rippling effect.
The postures and tonal harmonies of the billowing drapery capture whisper-thin differences between different states of pathos. Rather than unleashing emotion in a typically ‘expressionistic’ manner, Laine suggestively demonstrates how his expressive spectrum derives its intensity from subtle psychological nuances.
The figures derive their enigmatic presence not only from their abstracted faces, which are invariably presented in profile, nor solely from their soliloquy-like postures, or even from the rich resonance of colour harmonies, but also from the insistent manner in which they consciously occupy the landscape as paintings.
(Translated by Silja Kudel)
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.