Ola Kolehmainen


February 22 – March 22, 2023

BGE Contemporary is proud to present our second exhibition with Finnish art photographer Ola Kolehmainen. The exhibition «Vniversvm et Mvsevm» is the premiere of an ongoing study by Kolehmainen, where he explores traditions and influences from art history, and how they are traveling through the centuries.

Early projects of Kolehmainen have dealt with details of modern architecture, often with a minimalist focus. His last exhibition at our gallery, «Hellige Rom», saw a shift from modernism and minimalism to historical buildings and sacred spaces. This development continues with «Vniversvm et Mvsevm»  where we are taken on a journey to museums around the world – to the sacred spaces of art.

There still is a tendency to reproduce outdated versions of art history, versions that emphasize uniqueness and the artist as genius. However, there is constant work being done with re-writing and exposing these narratives as too narrow, one-sided and at worst, discriminatory. Kolehmainen’s ongoing project, including the exhibition «Vniversvm et Mvsevm» is a contribution to this work. By opening up a dialogue about these themes, he enables a deep dive into our visual history.

«Vniversvm et Mvsevm» at its core is connected to the 16th century philosopher Giulio Camillo and his most famous project, the Theatre of Memory. The Theatre of Memory explores the human desire to remember past experiences, and to structure the elements of the world around us. Modern museums are indeed connected to the Memory Theatre. How they are choosing to display their art or artifacts – what they are showing and what they are choosing not to show – is shaping how we collectively remember the past.

Kolehmainen’s exhibition calls on the effect of the memory theater, and transforms the gallery into a vehicle for re-examining history – not just of art – but of all past truths. With the artwork MVSEVM X (Velazquez-Francis Bacon), for instance, the artist challenges the way we are thinking about time. In this image, time is imagined in reverse. We can ask ourselves: How does the present influence the past?

Ola Kolehmainen’s work J.V. Eyck 1434 (Arnolfini Portrait), strongly accentuates some core themes for this exhibition. For instance, the idea that we see everything in fragments, and the mediation of art through the centuries – connecting countless generations. The fragmented re-composition of the world famous portrait could be read as a suggestion that some core truth or knowledge – represented by the infamous motif – remains, even though times change and the way forward demands seeing matters from new perspectives. The cyclical nature of time is demonstrated by how strong the classical influence is in contemporary art.

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