Santeri Tuori, Sky #26, 2015, viisiosainen pigmenttivedos.
Santeri Tuori, Sky #26, 2015, pigment print, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.

Santeri Tuori: Sky #26

APRIL 2022

Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s latest acquisitions include a photographic artwork Sky #26(2015) from Santeri Tuori’s series Sky. A panorama in five parts, the work rolls billowing cloud masses in front of the viewer.

Graduate of University of Art and Design in 2003 and participant in Helsinki School’s international fame, Santeri Tuori (b. 1970) has depicted nature throughout his career: trees, sky and waterfalls. Second theme recurring in artist’s oeuvre is time and its passage, after all, photograph has traditionally been considered explicitly a static impression of lost time. 

In works created during the last couple of decades and shown at the solo-exhibition Posing Time curated by Tarja Talvitie these themes are interlinked in many ways. For the exhibition’s title work series from the year 2000, persons were posing one hour’s time in a studio in Berlin in front of a camera that took a picture every other second. A combination of still and moving images, artwork Forest #45 (2021) continues the artist’s forest themed series which he has filmed already for 15 years at Kökar on Åland Island, whereas the entire wall size video work Waterfall #2 (2021) shows the passage of time in a flowing movement of meltwater running from a glacier in Iceland. Monumental Sky #26, which encapsulates into one view the clouds that the artist had filmed at different locations, was acquired from the exhibition for the museums’ collection, among others.

Tuori’s working method is systematic like that of a naturalist: he returns year after year to the same spots to photograph the same trees or layers into one image his shots of waterlilies made during one growing season. In the art pieces from the series Sky, the artist adds layers of black-and-white or colour cloudscapes taken at different times and places.

The working method is linked to the observation of natural phenomena which was the common interest of the art of Romanticism and newly appeared science of meteorology in the early 19th century. Shortly after British Luke Howard had introduced his classification of three cloud types in 1802, in the hands of the landscape painters, the cloudscapes became an independent subject matter in art. Among Finnish painters, particularly brothers von Wright recorded their detailed weather observations in their diaries as well in their artworks.

Since a long time, clouds had provided the painters a way to create an atmosphere particularly for religious or history paintings. In the aftermath of French Revolution, Romantic artists such as Caspar David Friedrich and Joseph Mallord William Turner instead of religious narratives directed their longing for sanctity on nature and its phenomena. Stormy sea or billowing cloud mass may represent them the sublime power of nature forces over a small man. Like them, Tuori creates in the artwork Sky #26 a sublime cloudscape in which the viewer might detect ocean waves or movements of the cosmic dust in space. Tuori’s work approaches also another kind of sublime experience of infinity which the mid-20th century abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman strived for in their art. Tuori’s from frame to frame on-going celestial view brings to mind the forms reaching towards infinity of Newman’s paintings whereas photographs of cloud formations layered on top of each other seem to be related the surface created by a vortex of layered knitwork of splashes, defying distinguishing of figure and backdrop in Pollocks paintings. And just like Pollocks works are pronounced physical traces of creative painting process, photographs also can be interpreted a trace of an object that light has left on film at a particular point in time. Images of clouds Tuori has layered on top of each other also emerge as temporal montage, moments taken from the stream of time concentrating into one image.

Petra Lehtoruusu

Pennonen, Anne-Maria: In search of scientific and artistical landscape: Düsseldorf landscape painting and reflections of the natural sciences as seen in the artworks of Finnish, Norwegian and German artists. National gallery, 2020.
Rosenblum, Robert: Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition Friedrich to Rothko. Thames and Hudson, 1975.
Santeri Tuori – Time is No Longer Round. Hatje Cantz, 2020.
Santeri Tuori: Posing Time. Serlachius-tv: