Merkintöjä muotokuvasta: Lauri Eriksson, Vilma Pimenoff, Johannes Romppanen, Perttu Saksa ja Nita Vera

19.04.2022 - 29.05.2022

Does a portrait have to resemble or look like its subject? How far can we go from the traditional presentation to the abstract, while preserving the essence of a portrait? The exhibition Merkintöjä Muotokuvasta, hosted by the Northern Photographic Centre, opens up the anatomy of a portrait and wonders what the portrait is all about.

The philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer states that portrait is not just a picture or a copy of reality – a portrait is the memory of the present and the person it presents. Graphic presentations and symbols, such as those found in medieval family crests, can also be found in the portrait features. In a portrait, the imitation of reality, the pursuit of similarity and reproduction, and the representation are strongly linked to the continuation of Western thinking. Identities, ideologies, and various historical presentation conventions shape our perception of a portrait. The similarity of portrait creates constant tension in the genre of portraits. Well-known portraits have even been destroyed, because they have placed their targets in an unfavourable light.

In the Merkintöjä Muotokuvasta exhibition, photography artists ​Lauri Eriksson​, ​Vilma Pimenoff, Johannes Romppanen, Perttu Saksa​  and Nita Vera​ reflect extensively on the portrait and its essence. The artists have built a test laboratory of portrait photography in the gallery space of the Northern Photographic Centre, where they experiment and study both the possibilities of portrait photography and the boundaries of presentation. Where are the boundaries of a portrait?  

Johannes Romppanen questions the subject of the portrait, describing everyday objects rather than individuals. The works to be seen in Oulu Isän Muisto comprises the objects of the late father of Romppanen and the photographs associated with him. Nita Vera’s interpretation of a portrait is limited to minimalist shapes – even lines. At the same time, she wonders how to construct a portrait of a person who has not yet been born. Vilma Pimenoff's Eyes Eyes Baby video piece teaches us ‘to see more’ through make-up tutorials. Pimenoff considers the interpretation of a self-image through a mirror image as both a subject and an object. Lauri Eriksson’s works move from the portrait to the museum's objects and his family's archive documents. The Perttu Saksa works displayed in the exhibition are part of the artist’s ​Melancholy Objects series. Saksa’s portraits depicted in dim light subtly highlights a stuffed, lifeless animal and contemplate the relationship between the object and the living one. 




Lauri Eriksson’s works alternate portraits, landscapes, and archive documents. In 2016, Eriksson’s 22 Cases of Homelessness exhibition toured several photographic centres and was also seen in the Northern Photographic Centre. The series of works was also a Fotofinlandia finalist in 2016. Photography books published by Eriksson include Suomi Pictures (2001), and Bitter Sweet (2006). He has graduated from the University of Helsinki as a master of philosophy and is currently preparing a doctoral thesis in the University of Helsinki's doctoral programme History and Cultural Heritage.


Vilma Pimenoff explores everyday artistic phenomena through compositions and objects. In particular, Pimenoff has studied gaze and gazing of her series Images of Women (2019)In the series she has used a popular culture catalogue to examine different cultural customs and meanings, and their formation. In his work, gazing is strongly present in both the installations and video work. Pimenoff has graduated from the University of the Arts London University (LCC) as a Master of Photographic Art.


Johannes Romppanen is a photographic artist and portrait photographer living and working in Espoo. His work is centred around humanity and its many relationships. In 2020, Romppanen won the 2019 Photobook of the Yearwith his Lilja photobook, which is a personal story of his CP-handicapped daughter Lilja and the family’s everyday life, where hospital visits are part of daily life.


Perttu Saksa is photographer and artist from Raasepori. The central theme of Saksa’s work is the relationship between people and the environment, in particular the relationship between humans and animals. In addition to photography, Saksa works on sculptures and won President Mauno Koivisto’s memorial competition in 2018. Saksa graduated from the Lahti Institute of Design and the Academy of Fine Arts.


Nita Vera looks the world as a photographic artist through the eyes of a film director. His works are recognisable from the staged, guided shots and stopped scenes, where Vera considers different forms of love. She graduated from the Department of Photographic Art at Aalto University in 2018 and is studying the use of narrative in video art in her doctoral dissertation in progress.

Vilma Pimenoff, Portrait with blue eyes, 2019


  • Nita Vera, #4, 2000
  • Johannes Romppainen, sarjasta Isän muisto, 2020