It is said that the best way to discover a country is to travel there, see the landscapes, get to know its people, their traditions and lifestyle. If the county you would like to know better is Finland, there is no need to go further than seeing the photographs of Pekka Turunen. His work will make you feel like you’re there, looking at the people living their lives, stopping just for a moment so they could be immortalized in a picture. You will feel the cold air on your skin and you’ll be amazed by the beauty of the Finish landscapes. When it comes to environmental portraits, Pekka Turunen is one of the best.
Photography is a way for the artist to get to know his country, but also himself. Traveling across Finland allowed him to witness the way of life that may seem distant to ordinary viewers. His country is in the north of Europe, the climate is very cold and harsh, and the lifestyle is very different than the rest of Europe. That is where the artist saw the endless possibilities for exploration, and that is where he found beauty and inspiration. It is a challenge, just surviving in those conditions, yet the people are used to them. Turunen is a master at capturing that people’s ability to survive.
He graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1987. He lives in the southwest part of Finland with his wife, who is also a photographer, and two very lively children. Turunen has won twice the Finnish State Grant for Photographic Art (five years long each) and a grant from the Hasselblad Foundation.
Along with fellow photographer Esko Männikkö, Turunen has been working on a project called Pемонт (Remont). It’s a Russian word which could be translated as reparation. The project lasted from 1989-1995, and it was inspired by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the after-effects. Two artists traveled to the Kola Peninsula (northern Finland), and tried to capture the ecological damage, caused by nuclear waste and the process of nickel smelting. They photographed a transition community was in. The reality was captured with clarity, poetry, and grit.
If you are unable to travel to Finland and still want to discover it, the photography of Pekka Turunen remains the best way to do it. His raw realism is simply captivating. The artist managed to eternalize the people and landscapes he photographed, showing his country to all those interested in it.
He is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto, Canada.
Featured image: Pekka Turunen – Punkkari, 1990; copyright © Galleria Pirkko-Liisa Topelius.
All images copyright © Pekka Turunen and Stephen Bulger Gallery.
|2013||PEMOHT (Remont) with Esko Mannikko||Galerie Nordenhake||Group|
|2009||Against the Wall||Kominek, Berlin, Germany||Solo|
|2008||Yrke: Konstnar||gamla kommunalstugan, Pargas||Group|
|2006||Absolut Lande||Villa Lande, Kemio||Solo|
|2006||Finlandia||De Hallen, Haarlem, Netherlands||Group|
|2006||Soucasna finska fotografie||Prague House of Photography||Group|
|2006||Every object tells a story||Ethnological Helina Rautavaara -Museum, Espoo||Group|
|2005||Greetings from Finland||Kraft -gallery, Turku||Solo|
|2004||Konsten att se||Soderlangvik museum, Dragsfjard||Solo|
|2004||Se mika on tavallista||Turun taidemuseo||Group|
|2004||30byTaik||Photography museum; Helsinki||Group|
|2004||Every object tells a story||Salo Art Museum||Group|
|2004||37,3°C||Vikingsberg, Helsingborg, Ruotsi||Group|
|2003||Pekka Turunen||Finnland-institut in Deutschland, Berlin, Germany||Solo|
|2003||Piled-up||Foyer of Rathaus of the city of Essen, Germany||Group|
|2003||Nya verkligheter||Finlands institutet, Stockholm||Group|
|2003||New Realities, Finsk samtida fotografi||Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg||Group|
|2003||Inhimillinen arki||Vantaa Art Museum||Group|
|2003||Ihmisia itarajoilla||Imatra Art Museum||Group|
|2002||Pekka Turunen||Musee de Normandie, Caen, France||Solo|
|2002||Roots||Arthall, Helsinki, Arthall Tallin, Estonia||Group|
|2002||Boys||gallery Peri, Turku||Group|
|2002||Minasiname||Centre Photographique dile-de-France, Pontault-Combault||Group|
|2002||Roots||Arthall, Tallinn Estonia||Group|
|2001||Pekka Turunen||Kunsthaus Boskamp, Hochenlockstedt, Germany||Solo|
|2001||Sehnsucht nach der sehnsucht||meciac fotografie, Bratislava||Group|
|2001||Images beyond the naked eye||WWF touring exhibition, Haag, Frankfurt||Group|
|2000||Collected Works||Antinsali, Lahti||Solo|
|1999||Collected Works||Museum of Photography, Helsinki||Solo|
|1999||Collected Works||Photographic center in Kuopio||Solo|
|1999||Collected Works||Photographic center in Mikkeli||Solo|
|1999||Pekka Turunen||Gallery Zebra, Karjaa||Solo|
|1999||Pekka Turunen||Galleri Specta, Copenhagen, Denmark||Solo|
|1999||Sehnsucht nach der sehnsucht||Die Nordischen Botschaften, Berlin||Group|
|1999||Ruralia||Pori Art Museum||Group|
|1998||Everyday, 11th biennale of Sydney||Sydney||Group|
|1998||Underexposed||Metro exhibition in Stockholm||Group|
|1998||Art of the World||Passage de Retz, Paris||Group|
|1997||Pekka Turunen||Gallery Harmonia, Jyvaskyla||Solo|
|1997||Collected Works||Lusto Forest Museum, Punkaharju; Ekenas Museum||Solo|
|1997||Pekka Turunen||Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Solo|
|1997||Pekka Turunen||Galleri Specta, Copenhagen, Denmark||Solo|
|1997||Against the Wall||Up-Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden||Solo|
|1997||Strangers in the Arctic||Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|1996||PEMOHT (Remont) with Esko Mannikko||Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway||Group|
|1996||Strangers in the Arctic||Rundetarn, Copenhagen, Denmark||Group|
|1996||Strangers in the Arctic||Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki and Pori Art Museum||Group|
|1995||PEMOHT (Remont), with Esko Mannikko||Tampere Art Museum||Group|
|1994||Against the Wall||Photographic Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark||Solo|
|1994||Postmorality||1st Triennial of Finnish Photography, Kunsthalle Helsinki||Group|
|1993||Country & Eastern||with Ari Jaskari and Esko Mannikko, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium; Murmansk Art Museum, Russia||Group|
|1992||Decennium||Bucarest, Romania; Scotland; Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey; Barcelona and Madrid, Spain||Group|
|1992||Country & Eastern with Ari Jaskari and Esko Mannikko||Vantaa, Oulu, Tampere, Varkaus||Group|
|1991||Against the Wall||Nice, France||Solo|
|1991||Against the Wall||Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia||Solo|
|1986||Minne (Where) - Finnish Photography 1842-1986||Kunsthalle Helsinki||Group|