Works of Janne Laine are a journey to the immaterial

Janne Laine (born in 1970) is a printer from Tampere, Finland. He works mainly with heliogravure, in which a photograph is exposed onto a copper plate, after which the plate is processed with etching solution. It can then be worked onwards. Photograph is a starting point, but the minimalistic form of expression is born layer by layer. Selection of subject matter, taking a picture of it, processing the plate and the final act of printing all are vital for the successful outcome.

Laine is in command of the traditional methods of metal graphics, but he does not succumb to showing off his technical skills. He works the copper plate with outmost restraint, mainly by polishing the already etched plate. Areas of monocromatic colour are created with aquatint. He seldom adds any colour to the actual pictures. Colour, if there is any, is present in his works as a separate element.

There are two recurrent themes in Laine´s works: a landscape and a person, both treated with simplicity and visual spirit. These themes occupy an equal position in his production and are complementary to each other.

People and relationships

In his works Laine visualizes a human tendency to create networks, form pairs and groups. People he uses as models are photographed by Laine himself.

He minimizes details and stylizes his pictures, but leaves his models recognizable. Sometimes he reduces their individuality by arranging them in postures resembling the ones used in passport photographs. This way his models become examples for viewers to identify with, people who they know as part of their own networks of human relationships.

When Laine portrays couples, he gives more space for his models. The couples are real couples and although the pictures are staged, the people and their relationships are genuine.
In many of his larger series of works Laine has dealt with the issues of sexual minorities and the society´s need to put people into pigeonholes and define them based on their sexual orientation. Laine challenges us both to identify with the pictures or, sometimes, to feel ourselves as outsiders.

Alongside with black and white prints Laine uses monocromatic surfaces. However, the colours are more than mere decorations in his works. Although they retain their esthetic values, they get their justification through their symbolic meaning in particular. Rainbow flag, liturgical colours or colour circle are analogies of faces, kisses or human relationships.

Immaterial landscape

Laine has also used his camera in creating bare and minimalistic landscapes. He has found his subjects while travelling in Iceland, South Africa, New York and China, to mention a few.

He seizes on landscapes with strong intensity; yet he trusts the power of simple elements. A row of street lamps or a snow-covered landscape are reasons enough for him to create a picture.

A recurrent theme is a landscape where earth, water and air are combined to form a subtle layer of substance. Laine discovers these steamy locations all over the world. They are repeated very similarly, but small changes create different atmospheres in each picture.

The use of warm reddish tinge next to black gives Laine’s Africa-pictures a strong sensation of the richness of colour in that particular terrain, whereas in the Iceland-pictures the use of a mere black colour shows the country covered with glaciers and rocks just the way we have always imagined it.

Janne Laine is a romantic at heart – one who seeks and creates atmospheres. His works include both dramatic elements and moments of absolute silence. A picture is born out of a state of mind rather than out of the need for a story. Landscape means something very primary for him.

Time before the world was made by man is strongly present in the sensations of nature that Laine conveys in his pictures. By making esthetic choices through his camera lens he brings a viewer into his pictures as someone who sees and feels the landscape in target. There´s no beauty without a viewer.

Veikko Halmetoja
Art critic

Translation, Anne Paldanius