Rainer Paananen’s solo exhibition Sound of Alchemy presents the artist’s photographic pieces and installations from 2018–2021. Mirroring minimalism and conceptual art, the exhibition explores the idea of producing sound and photographs through alternative methods. The exhibition includes Paananen’s performance of producing a photographic piece with an experimental musical instrument.

“In 2017, I was working with abstract photography and developing a new mode of expression for myself. I went back to analogue photography and got into a camera-less laboratory method of producing monochromatic, chromogenic colour prints.

At the same time, I was sketching my photographic pieces with a chalk line that can be used to draw completely straight lines between two points. The string is coated with chalk dye, pulled tight over the desired surface and then plucked sharply to release the powder. The function and sound of the chalk line reminded me of instrumental music that has been part of my life for 18 years.

I wanted to discover a way to combine sound with photography. I built an experimental string instrument that mimics the operating principles of the chalk line. By playing the instrument, I was able to explore the basic shapes and materials characteristic of my work.”

Paananen’s photographic pieces are two-dimensional visual performances, condensing music into silence and colour. For his visual process, Paananen draws inspiration from his experiences in nature, the changing colours of the seasons and, sometimes, musings about abstract concepts, such as the speed of a specific colour.

Rainer Paananen (b. 1990 in Tikkakoski) is a Helsinki-based artist and photographer. He has a Master’s degree in Arts from the Aalto University Field of Art and Design. Paananen’s art has been exhibited at galleries such as Kunsthalle Helsinki (Helsinki, 2021), Gallery Bässen (Raseborg, 2021), the Grand Palais (Paris, 2018) and Gallery Taik Persons (Berlin, 2018).

He would like to thank the Arts Promotion Centre Finland for supporting the exhibition. He also extends his sincere thanks to designer and instrument maker Hemmo Honkonen for his cooperation on the instrument.