Elina Brotherus' solo exhibition 'Spaces and Places' opens at Helsinki Contemporary on March 31

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Elina Brotherus’ (b. 1972) ‘Spaces and Places’ is the artist’s first gallery exhibition in Finland in a long time, and her first-ever show at Helsinki Contemporary. In April/May the gallery space will be filled with a previously unseen set of works from four different series of photographs. The exhibition is made up of dialogues with works by the famous artists Amaldus Nielsen, René Magritte and John Baldessari, and of a selection of self-portraits made at the Didrichsen Art Museum. The dialogue between artists adds a temporal dimension to the exhibition, a journey from romanticism, via surrealism, to the core of postmodern contemporary art.

‘Spaces and Places’ is a combination of outdoor and indoor spaces, of gazes at and away from. In the pictures in the exhibition Brotherus takes up a position in space that is always relative to the surroundings and the landscape, but also to art history. The dialogue with these paintings or the texts made by deceased artists becomes visible. The pictures are events, but at the same time they are spaces in which a friendship is enacted. Through them the connection to someone else who is personally important is made real. “Artists need other artists. We have teachers from our student days, and later on self-chosen ones, to offer us a helping hand. Connections, chains, affinities and friendships are important. They are places where art is thought about and enthused about.”

Four works from the ‘Visitor (Villa Didrichsen)’ series of photographs that Brotherus shot at the Didrichsen Art Museum in 2021–2022 are being shown as part of the Helsinki Contemporary exhibition. The starting point for these images was the freedom to work with an entire art collection, while making use of the building’s architecture and interiors. With their presence, the figures in the pictures – the visitors – bring the space to life, suggesting alternative realities alongside the actual history of this building designed by Viljo Revell (1958, 1964). At Didrichsen, Brotherus, who is known as a colourist, got to act as curator of her own pictures. She was able to pick out paintings from the Museum’s collections, for instance, to match the colours of her compositions. 

Discover more about the exhibition

Vernissage at Helsinki Contemporary on Thursday, March 30 at 5–7pm. A conversation that goes into the background and themes of the exhibition will take place at the gallery on Friday, March 31 at 5pm. Talking with Brotherus will be the exhibition’s curator Mika Hannula.

Didrichsen Art Museum exhibition ‘Elina Brotherus – Visitor’ 11.2–28.5.2023
For more details: www.didrichsenmuseum.fi


Elina Brotherus works since more than twenty years in photography and moving image. Her work has been alternating between autobiographical and art-historical approaches. Her early works on subjective experiences gave way to photographs dealing with the human figure and the landscape, the relation of the artist and the model. In her current work she is revisiting Fluxus event scores and other written instructions for performance-oriented art of the 1950s-70s. Another big theme in her current practice is architecture. Brotherus photographs in private houses designed by important architects, taking roles of various imagined characters and bringing a tranquil human presence to these iconic spaces of architectural heritage. Elina Brotherus lives and works in Helsinki, Finland and Avallon, France. She has an MA degree in Photography from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now Aalto University) and an MSc in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki. Brotherus started exhibiting internationally in 1997. Her works are in nearly 80 public collections including the Pompidou Centre, Paris, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, to name a few, and she has published 13 monographs. Brotherus has been awarded, among others, Carte blanche PMU, France, in 2017, the Finnish State Prize for Photography in 2008, and the Prix Niépce in 2005.

Elina Brotherus' work has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Didrichsen Art Museum, Helsinki, FRAC Normandie, Rouen, Château de Bois-Héroult, AKO Kunststiftelse, Kunstsilo, Kristiansand and Centre méditerranéen de la photographie, Bastia.