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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hannu Huhtamo

Ominous Visions, 2017, Hannu Huhtamo
It's likely that every writer is acutely aware of the importance and power of the preposition. A single word, often little more than a couple letters, can radically change the meaning of a sentence. Several years ago Thomas Kinkaid labeled himself "The painter of light." For those grammatically challenged, the preposition in that case is the word "of." We could argue all day as to the validity of his claim. Many conservatives love his work. Personally, it never appealed to me. But I digress. Substituting the preposition in Kinkaid's slogan from "of" to any number of other possibilities such as, "The painter from light," or possibly, or "The painter about light, or "the painter under light," maybe "the painter in light," changes the meaning of the phrase ranging from profound to virtually nonsensical.
Hannu Huhtamo in making of Kuva Kapea
The Finnish artist, Hannu Huhtamo, quite accurately terms himself "the painter with light." He applies it quite literally. Each December for about 50 days, Finland’s northern region has a period when the sun never rises above the horizon. Hannu Huhtamo is more a photographer than painter, (though to be technical, every photographer paints with light). Huhtamo embraces Finland's prolonged darkness by making it the canvas for his long-exposure light-painting photos. In effect, darkness is his canvas and lights are his brushes. Based in Helsinki, Huhtamo uses light and long-exposure photography to paint stunning images. The artist dresses in black, often darkening his face so as to be invisible to the camera. His photography is the art of using a slow shutter speed (long exposure) to capture the cumulative effects of time passing in a single image. This technique allows him to capture clouds as they travel across the sky or the lights of traffic as it moves along the highway. Hannu’s shots vary from a few minutes to a few hours.

Waiting to be Found, Hannu Huhtamo
Before one can develop an appreciation for Huhtamo's work, it's best to observed how it is created. Click on the video below to watch the artist at work. It's not as easy as it looks. The art supplies are minimal least until you get to the darkroom.

If you're thinking, "I could do that," try it sometime. You'll
need a tripod, a 35mm SLR with film (that may be the
hardest part these days) and a flashlight.
No need to go to Finland.

Hannu Huhtamo has been painting with lights since 2008, but it was back in the 1990’s. He was shooting a death metal band and wanted to draw out a pentagram with a lighter so he opened the shutter of his camera and created his first light painting image. After that, Huhtamo moved away from shooting light painting images; until another light artist, Janne Parviainen, showed him some of his images. From then on, Huhtamo was hooked on light painting.

I could find no indication as to how long each image takes to create or what the artist does if he or she makes a mistake.
After drawing sketches of what he’d like to create, Huhtamo grabs his camera gear, flashlights and goes out to shoot. Thus, with his patience and skill, he brings light and color to the darkness creating surreal artworks without any digital manipulation in Photoshop (a word he hates). Many of his works focus on organic forms, like amazingly beautiful flowers. The symmetry in nature has always fascinated the artist more than anything else, especially after he started developing floral shapes in order to create light sculptures that look organic. His major interested is in how we define what is beautiful and what is not. He tries to examine it through various environments by exploring unusual and forgotten places in the city outskirts. Huhtamo finds abandoned and dilapidated houses that have been reclaimed by nature, to be the most inspiring environments in which to find hidden beauty.

Beauty in a "spooky" sort of way.

 TRASH, 2017 Hannu Huhtamo


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