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Ola Kolehmainen is known for his large abstract architectural photographs which encourage the viewer to take a fresh look at the environment. Everywhere there is heart-stopping beauty. An exhibition of Kolehmainen’s latest works will be opening at the Alvar Aalto Museum in March.

The large surfaces of the photographs contain forms, colours and reflections. Some of them are distantly recognisable while others pose question marks. Many of Ola Kolehmainen’s latest works are associated with Aalto buildings and thus continue his commentary on Aalto buildings begun in the 1990s.

Kolehmainen has been visiting Aalto buildings for years in order to become familiar with them – from Paimio Sanatorium to the Villa Mairea, to Säynätsalo Town Hall and Imatra, to buildings in and around Jyväskylä and finally to Viipuri Library. In the same way as many other contemporary photographers, Kolehmainen enters into a dialogue with the buildings which remain in place but are continually and unexpectedly changing according to the lighting conditions.

“The thing that is new and fascinating to me is the way the content of a work changes,” says Kolehmainen. “My way of working has taught me to renew my own artistic language.”

Over the last year he has also been working in the Alvar Aalto Museum archives and looked through a substantial quantity of archive material. The Alvar Aalto archive contains the largest collection of photographs and original Aalto drawings in the world. Kolehmainen has been particularly interested, for example, in photographs that have been rejected because of exposure faults, photographs that have been kept for one reason or another, but never used.

Sitting in the archives and photographing buildings have influenced one another. The ritual of browsing through photographs and looking at them again is a familiar method to Kolehmainen, but this is the first time he has used archives systematically. Time is present in the archives in a very concrete way.

“I have been switching my gaze backwards and forwards from the archives directly to the real world,” says Kolehmainen.

Aalto’s buildings are iconic. In Kolehmainen’s view it is of no interest to photograph them in reality, one-to-one. The character of the materials themselves is so strong. For instance, Kolehmainen describes brick as being difficult to break into. Taking pictures is a slow business; according to Kolehmainen it might take a year to make one picture.

In his works Kolehmainen is searching for a space-time experience engendered in the mind. At its deepest he is seeking it in an unassuming and easy-looking manner by stopping surfaces, forms, colours and light in a new spatial impression. At the same time, he guides our experience away from the existing reality by adding another layer to it.

Ola Kolehmainen



Alvar Aalto Museum / Gallery, Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä, Finland

Press photos

For further information please contact educational curator Mari Murtoniemi,, tel. +358 400 245 708