For the past 10 years, Finnish artist Mikko Rikala (b. 1977) has been exploring temporal phenomena and meditative practices as an extended part of his artistic and conceptual oeuvre. Approaching philosophical questions from a self-proposed system of irrational thought, the artist presents photographs, drawings and composed objects, in metaphorically charged constructions.


Various cycles under the sun, gallery 3+1 ARTE CONTEMPORÂNEA, Lisbon


Mikko Rikala’s artistic imaginary is driven by, amongst other things, exploring processes and situations that lend themselves to investigating the tensions between observing and perceiving, beyond the boundaries of logical and rational expectations. His preferred medium is photography, although he frequently references and revisits drawing and sculpture. He is interested in the ontological characteristics of photography, its contiguous relationship with light and time, but also in its ability to create similes, illusory dual figures that play with presence and absence. They are images that fluctuate between their factual dimension (confirmation of something actually seen) and their fictional dimension (triggered by a unique, ambiguous and mute image), stimulating the possibility of a shift in perception from what is seen to what is imagined, from the real to the virtual – a visuality, in short, prone to aesthetic, conceptual and symbolic drifts.


The photographs in this exhibition confirm recurrent aspects of Rikala’s work, such as the use of photographic sequences that capture the same subject at different moments in time. Considering Stones, Eight Days Under the Sun (wind) and We are Living on a Star are diptychs that show a before and an after, separated, respectively by a day, eight days and two months. The observation of difference between the two images is also a way of evoking something invisible but assumed: a movement or transformation of things that has occurred during this interval. Rikala examines various themes, objects and places, from both the natural and the manmade world, yet without suggesting any kind of hierarchy. We see landscapes, objects, water, stones, subjects observed under the influence of light and the weather. States of matter – liquids, gas, solids – might also be described as one of his concerns. All these states and manifestations indicate transitory processes, cycles of disintegration and renewal that are intrinsic to the physical world we inhabit. Yet the devices of the image should also be included in this phenomenology.


In As the Snow on the Alps, (Hochtenn), for example, a found photograph of the Alps is rephotographed and printed, and then photographed and printed again, with the artist diluting the chemicals for processing the negatives far beyond the recommended level, causing alterations in the film and thus in the resulting images. Consequently, the last image in the triptych shows a very different view of the mountains, as if weather conditions had profoundly altered this mountainous setting in the intervening period. These are images that scrutinise our potential to observe and understand the world beyond its appearance, its figural evidence, in a way that sparks other approaches, rhythms and efforts in our understanding of the space and time that we experience. In this sense, it is a work designed to elicit more attentive, open, intense and creative observation. A discussion of time is thus unavoidable. Yet the time we are dealing with here is not a logical and arithmetic, homogenous and divisible time. On the contrary, these images are suggestive of another, more intuitive and polymorphous time, where the possibility of images producing a time that is immanent to them – a heterogeneous and predominantly visual time – is engendered.


This dialectical relationship with time, as a condition of the world and of its perceptibility, permeates all these images, even those that are isolated images. In Ephemeral Like a Stone (Giant’s Kettle) and Ephemeral Like a Stone (Pace Counter) we observe changes that reveal, respectively, the time of nature and the time of human actions (in this case the artist’s patient and obsessive stroking of a stone with his thumb while walking). The images show a suspended, immobile reality. However, the images show that the immobility of the image is a relative impossibility, because the moment is alive with the time and movement that the eye and mind experience whenever triggered by fixity. In Note on Visibility (transparent / opaque) two planes overlap. As we move from registering a misty window to a blurred and partially obstructed view of the exterior, there is a confrontation between the two realities of description and abstraction. I Have Seen the Horizon Through the Mist of my Breath is an image that confirms the persistency of our imaginative impulse. We see a ‘cloud’ of steam caused by the artist’s breath somewhere on a cold night. A line has been drawn by the photographer across this patch of steam, suggesting a horizon line. A landscape is thus revealed, because our desire for an image tends to prevail, even when we are presented with a simple and unassuming mass, with this clue instilling in the viewer the idea that they are seeing something recognisable. It is an image that compels us to rediscover nature and the purpose of our own gaze, knowing beforehand that we don’t only (or even predominantly) see with our eyes and that to fully experience the visible we must activate a body and a mind that are open to experiencing a reality that is presented but which cannot be fully seen. In this as in other images by Mikko Rikala, it is important to emphasise the importance of the body as the living means of perception and comprehension. Many works are the result of gestures and actions made by a body – walking, observing, breathing, touching. The body is the medium and the measure. We are close to the subjects. Our gaze lingers over the subject, approaching, operating on a human scale, at the distance of a body, at times at an arm or hand’s length, allowing a relationship that is simultaneously visual and physical, or rather, a visuality based on the body, on its sensations, on the tactile.


Sérgio Mah, 02.2019

Translation: KennisTranslations (Lucy Phillips)





Upcoming exhibitions

2021 Solo exhibition, Gallery Hippolyte, Helsinki, FI


Solo exhibitions

2020 Paradigms of Chance, Persons Project, Berlin, DE

2019Various cycles under the Sun, Gallery 3+1 Arte Contemporânea, Lisboa, PT

2018 It Feels Like The Days Are Getting Longer Again…, together with Juuso Noronkoski, Gallery Sinne, Helsinki, FI

2018 Overlapping Instants, with Juuso Noronkoski, Gallery Alarcon Criado, Sevilla, ES

2016 Emptiness Ceases to Be Blue, Gallery Rotwand, Zürich, CH

2015 Towards Nothing, Gallery Rotwand, Zürich, CH

2015 10 Weeks by the Sea, Gallery Bethanien, Berlin, DE

2014 It is Spring, and Clear Sky, and Afternoon, with Juuso Noronkoski, Gallery SIC, Helsinki, FI

2013 Towards Nothing, Gallery TAIK Persons, Berlin, DE

2012 Towards Nothing, Korjaamo Gallery, Helsinki, FI

2012 Clouds and Waves, with Paul Kuimet, Hobusepea Gallery, Tallinn, EST

2011 Between the Idea and the Reality, Korjaamo Gallery, Helsinki, FI

2010 Between the Idea and the Reality, with Maija Savolainen, B-gallery, Turku, FI

Group exhibitions (selected)

2020Nurture, Nature, David Behning Gallery, Düsseldorf, DE

2020 Frischer Wind aus den Norden, Kunsthalle ST. Annen, Lübeck, DE

2019 When is now?, WAM, Wäino Aaltonen museum of art, Turku, Finland, FI

2018 Seeing without a Seer, group exhibition, together with Hiryczuk/Van Oevelen, Toril Johannessen, Taisuke Koyama, Tuula Närhinen, Juuso Noronkoski, Martine Stig, August Strindberg, Looiersgracht 60, Amsterdam, NL

2018 Zeitspuren – The Power of Now, group exhibition, together with Julian Charrière, Daniel Gustav Cramer, Martin Creed, Elmgreen & Dragset, Cécile B. Evans, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rodney Graham, David Horvitz, Tehching Hsieh, Sophie Jung, On Kawara, Kapwani Kiwanga, Ragnar Kjartansson, Kris Martin, Agnieszka Polska, Pope.l, Barbara Probst, Laure Prouvost, Pilar Quinteros, Raqs Media Collective, Sophy Rickett, Dieter Roth, Stéphanie Saadé, Michael Sailstorfer, Kunsthaus Pasquart, Biel, CH

2018 Considering Finland, group exhibition, together with Ilkka Halso, Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth, Jaakko Kahilaniemi, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Sanna Kannisto, Anna Reivilä, Kunstverein Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen am Rhein, DE

2018 A Meeting Point: Communication/Translation, with Francesca Woodman, José Antonio Suárez Londoño, Claire Kerr, R/E Projects, Madrid, ES

2018 Maanantai Collective, Innsbruck International biennal, Innsbruck, DE

2017 Lehmä pitää viedä jäälle jotta se tanssii, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld, DE

2017 El Paso (The Passage), A dialoque between Mikko Rikala´s “Treasures from Along the Way” and historical works from artist of the El Paso group, R/E Projects, Madrid, ES

2016 Loteria, Miquel Barceló / Marco Breuer / Edward Burtynsky / Rebecca Horn/ Izima Kaoru / José Antonio Suárez Londoño / Robert Mapplethorpe / Navid Nuur / Roman Ondak / Sigmar Polke / Mikko Rikala / Juan Uslé / Samson Young , R/E Projects, Madrid, ES

2016 Fotographia Europea, Maanantai Kollektiivi, Reggio Emilia, IT

2016 A Process 2.0. Photo Month Krakov, Krakova, PL

2016 Art Rotterdam, Solo Presentation, Gallery Rotwand, Rotterdam, NL

2015 ABC, Berlin Art Contemporary, Solo Presentation, Gallery TAIK Persons, Berliini, DE

2015 Time Lapse, Maanantai Collective with Talia Chetrit, David Claerbout, Daniel Gustav Cramer, Moyra Davey, Haris Epaminonda, Alicja Kwade, Jüri Okas, Ats Parve, and Agnieszka Polska, curated by Anna Laarits, Tallinn Art Hall, Tallinn, EE

2015 Displacement, Gallery Taik Persons, Berlin, DE

2015 Interpreting the Frame, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Curated by Boshko Boskovic Helsinki, FI

2015 Interpreting the Frame, Gallery Augusta / HIAP, Curated by Boshko Boskovic, Helsinki, FI

2015 Between the Flashes of the Lighthouse, Maanantai Collective, Galerie Van Der Mieden, Brussels, BE

2014 Between the Flashes of the Lighthouse, Maanantai collective, Gallery TAIK Persons, Berlin, DE

2014 with Maija Savolainen, Tanja Koljonen and Maanantai Collective, Gallery Monopol, Warsaw, PL

2014 Maanantai collective, Gallery Gro, Jakobstad, FI

2013 Maanantai collective, Alt. +1000 Photography Festival, Rossinière, CH

2013 Maanantai collective, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, FI

2012 Portal, B-Gallery, Turku, FI

2012 And So On, And So Forth, KIM? Center of Contemporary Art, Riga, LV

2010 Encounters with death, Shanghai, CN

2010 EMMAprize exhibition, EMMAmuseum of modern art, Espoo, FI