Rax Rinnekangas (Rovaniemi, Finland, 1954) is a writer, film director, interpretor, jazz composer and photographer, and his prolific output has been awarded in Finland with the National Photography Prize (1989) and the National Literary Prize (1992). This exhibition presents Rinnekangas' contribution to the field of photography through a piece for which he spends decades travelling around more that twenty countries in Europe.
The Finnish artist brings together a selection of images that allow links between distant regions and cultures to be established, whilst also revealing the heterogeneity and complexity of the structures upon which the co-existence between countries is fostered. In search of Europe's identity, its traditions and cultures, Rinnekangas charts a map of the continents that is not separated by established borders - it constitutes instead an analytical exercise in the tensions between the identical and the diverse, both present in the European spirit. The word “tradition”, added to the title of the exhibition, is a reference to a sentence by Eugenio D’Ors: “In this life, everything that is not tradition is plagiarism”.
In the forty-one images comprising the exhibition, the temperature of colour is used as a symbolic code; Rinnekangas creates and applies a chromatic spectrum to his photographs made up of acid and fluorescent colours with an orangey warmth. For the artist, light is one essential component in all of his creations, as he expresses in his own words: “We come from darkness and leave in darkness. The life of light passes between these two definitive points, the only architect in each human life”.
Rinnekangas gives light philosophical meaning - the colours and atmosphere that appear in his images reflect the degree of the intensity of life that the artist grants each photographed situation. Light as a resource that broadens the semantic field of the composition is also palpable in the work of two figures that Rinnekangas acknowledges have had a big influence on him: filmmaker Andréi Tarkovski and painter Edward Hopper.
The photographs that make up this exhibition are produced between 1986 and 2002 and are titled with the name of the places they were taken in. These works convey Rinnekangas' travels through Europe as they take in both rural and urban landscapes. His vision does not proffer conclusions, though it does touch upon the tension and violence of the ideological orders established in the continent whilst also reflecting upon the profound nature of solitude.
Museo Reina Sofía Publications
28 February – 1 July 2024
Olga de Soto
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Ulla von Brandenburg
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What They Saw
Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843-1999Library and Documentation Centre