NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Kaarlo Stauffer’s Valohahmot, haaksirikko (Figures of Light, Shipwreck) exhibition brings together a set of works that has been in progress since 2017. These large-format representational paintings show human figures in various everyday situations in which a surprizing element creates a tension: Where does realism end and fantasy begin? The figures seem to speak of something beyond a fleeting moment recorded on canvas, a context begins to form in the viewer’s mind, to which we can relate the situation in the painting.

The Figures of light in the two-part title is a reference to the manifestations of light in the paintings, and shipwreck to the painting of the same name, in which a mental game turns the living room around and the home sofa becomes a raft made out of scrap. 

The paintings’ lighting and colour contrasts recall their starting points. The bright light resembling a flash refers to the old family-album photographs that have served as starting points for the paintings. In Stauffer’s production the relationship between painting and photograph is complicated. The painting is already present when he is looking at the photograph at the start of the process, and nor does that relationship ever totally vanish, even in the finished work. According to Stauffer, there is no clear break where the photograph’s thinking turns into the painting’s thinking, rather, there is a back-and-forth motion. 

The painting process also involves much that is unknown, that intuitively takes us forwards.  Each work reveals its essence slowly, and time is needed for the final painting to take shape. Throughout the process, we have to retain an unhurried feeling, and allow room for the uncharted via which something new can arise. The brushstrokes are intense and range from densely multi-layered to something resembling drawing.

The background to the paintings is always a real event that someone has documented by photographing it. Conversely, in his own works Stauffer sees the photograph’s evidential value, and at the same time their ever-expanding magical level. That magicality or fantasy can be linked to the method and technique, while in their content it is also a manifestation existing on two different time levels simultaneously. Thus, the question arises: Who is seeing these visions, the figure appearing in the work or the artist?

Kaarlo Stauffer (b. 1988 Nastola, lives and works in Helsinki) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, in 2014. In recent years, he has had solo exhibitions, for instance, at Titanik Gallery, Turku, TM Gallery and Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki, and in group exhibitions, for example, at Salon Dahlman in Berlin, Mikkeli Art Museum, Aine Art Museum, and Kunsthalle Helsinki. This summer, Stauffer curated Nastola’s Against the Grain summer exhibition. His works are in the Stockholm County, Heino Art Foundation, State Art Commission, Turku Art Museum and Kiasma collections.

Gallery name: Helsinki Contemporary

Address: Bulevardi 10, Helsinki

Opening hours: Tue-Fri 12:00 - 18:00, Sat-Sun 12:00 - 16:00

Open: 30.10.2020 - 22.11.2020