Born in Finland in 1950, Pentti Sammallahti began photographing at eleven and had his first solo exhibition at 21. Today he is the doyen of Finnish photography, and is increasingly recognized as a master of visual art. This exhibition, Here Far Away, presents 120 black and white images spanning over 40 years, and allows the viewer to appreciate, patience, painstaking craft, sense of atmosphere, and gentle humour of this man from a Nordic country who enjoys cold weather, mist, snow, dusk, and says that he “waits for photographs like a pointer dog.”
Sammallahti’s images are very varied: while animals are often the protagonists, he also observes the elements, the spaces of human settlement, especially in remote and forgotten places, other times he focuses on the gestures and body language of people in towns or the wilderness. Intrinsic to the work is the masterly care he puts in the printing of his photographs, no matter if tiny or large, analogue or digital.
Sammallahti’s work is as informed by photography as it is by painting, printmaking, cinema (one thinks of Paul Strand and Béla Tarr, Bruegel and Josef Sudek). But cultured references aren’t essential to dwell in his images; the key to his approach is in his statement, “You do not take photographs, you receive them.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a rich, beautifully printed catalogue, available in English, Italian, Finnish, French, Spanish, German.