Ola Kolehmainen

About the artist
Kolehmainen’s work focuses on the exploration of contemporary architecture. Using a minimalist language, he transforms interiors and façades of buildings into abstract, ornamental visual structures whose sensual presence is intensified by troublesome details such as mirrored trees.
In 1999 Kolehmainen graduated from a master’s program at the Helsinki School, whose alumni are currently creating a furor in photography around the world. We are pleased to be able to offer two of his fascinating meditation objects, as the photographer himself calls his works, as part of our Collector’s Editions program.

To his work

Ola Kolehmainen’s current project can be broken into three phases. The first being the measurement of the emotional, the second the physical, and the third the sensory perception of a new awareness of volume and its relationships to space.
The first set of work is feeling out the patterns of movement through the densities of emotional spaces. Kolehmainen used the interiors of churches in Europe as my backdrop. He was not focusing on any specific time period but more on the atmosphere created by the patterns followed by human emotional behaviour. After reviewing the church works Ola Kolehmainen realized that contemporary European architecture in its purest form by elements reflected within a certain space, can also capture a physical sense of density and volume. From this point he concentrated first on Jean Nouvel´s Instutite du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris and then began to move east ward. He was especially looking for works of architecture that defined our way of seeing by their visual dimensions. The breakdown of those dimensions by elements defines the current patterns we live with today. His third phase is to continue one step further by revealing his Northern prototypes (i.e. Alvar Aalto) through his critical studies on the continent.
Thus he has tried to capture visually an attitude coupled with a new understanding; a sense of perception of the boundaries by which we have been defining our present European life. The future of Europe is in realizing that its perimeters are boundless if we can appreciate the sanctuaries from within.

Artist Statement

Minimalism is my great love:

"In my works I concentrate on what is essential in a space, building or structure, leaving out things that are unnecessary, which I call visual noise. The original forms of my subjects often contain many repeated elements, a single form or material, often the same, in large quantities. When three-dimensional forms of this kind are photographed they tend to become surfaces, planes. The visual cleansing of a theme, its representation in a large-format photograph laminated on acrylic will, however, produce a new kind of multidimensional image of reality.

The removal of noise will make some themes almost abstract constructions. In the finished work their essence wavers between three-dimensionality and the plane. Where the surface of a work reflects from a certain angle the architectonic state of its surroundings, the viewing situation is shaped by the viewer’s distance from the piece, his or her perspective. The work is transformed from a mirror-like plane into an image, then into space, and again into matter.

With the volume of the work I want to pass on to the viewer my own cathartic experience of space.

The physical space surrounding us has always existed. It is always present in all realities of different age. Caves and primitive shelters have only taken on a new form. It has been said that nutrition is the first expression of culture. The second one is the space that surrounds us: its function, and slightly later its form."

– Ola Kolehmainen



MA in Photography, University of Art and Design, Helsinki


Education in journalism, University of Helsinki, Helsinki

Selected solo exhibitions



„Enlightenment“ Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä, Finnland

Gallerie Brandstrup, Oslo, Norway


Rohmaterial: Saubruch-Hutton“ Gallery TaiK, Berlin, Germany



Deutsche Werkstätten, Dresden, Germany

Alvar Aalto“ Galeria Senda, Barcelona, Spain

A Building Is Not a Building“ KUNTSI, Museum of Modern Art, Vaasa, Finnland

Colour Urban Structures“ Galerie Artfinder, Hamburg, Germany; Galerie Vanguardia, Bilbao, Spain; Galerie Brandstrup, Oslo, Norway



Ola Kolehmainen“ Galería Vanguardia, Bilbao, Spain

„Ola KolehmainenThe New Art Gallery Walsall, West Midlands, UK

Ola Kolehmainen“ Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo, Finnland

Ola Kolehmainen“ Kiasma - Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finnland



Ola Kolehmainen“ Galerie Koal, Berlin, Germany 

Ola Kolehmainen“ Galería SENDA, Barcelona, Spain


Ola Kolehmainen“ Sint-Lukasgalerie, Brüssels, Belgium


Ola Kolehmainen“ Artothèque de Caen, Caen, France


Ola Kolehmainen - Space is unknown“ Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris, France

Ola Kolemainen – Minimalism is my great love“ Artfinder Galerie x Mathias Güntner, Hamburg, Germany 


Ola Kolehmainen - "Construction" „ Herrmann & Wagner, Berlin, Germany



„Ola Kolehmainen“ i8 Gallery, Reykjavik, Island

Selected group exhibitions


„Erste Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art“ Arsenale 2012, Kiew, Ukrain

Alles nur Fassade? Architektur als Abstraktion“ Galerie Beck & Eggeling, Düsseldorf Germany

Helsinki Abstract“ Galerie Ruzischka, Salzburg, Austria

Segment 1A“ Borusan Collection, Istanbul, Turky


Helsinki School“ Christophe Guye Galerie, Zürich (Schweiz), Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

Facade: Through a Glass Darkly“ National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland UK

Verortung. Die Frage nach dem Raum in der zeitgenössischen Kunst“ Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany



Inaugural Exhibition“ Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland

„17th Biennale of Sydney - The Beauty and the Distance“ Biennale of Sydney (NSW)

„Hovedutstillinger“ Rogaland Museum of Fine Arts, Stavanger, Norway

Export - Import – Taidehalli“ Kunsthalle Helsinki, Helsinki, Finnland



Colour Urban Structures“ artfinder Galerie x Mathias Güntner, Hamburg, Germany

15_Jahre Sammlung Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg - Gegen den Strich“ Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany 

Auf der Spitze des Eisbergs - Neue Fotografie aus Finnland“ Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany



En Privat 1“ Es Baluard, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

The real Thing - New Acquisitions“ Malmö konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden

Nessuna Onda può Pettinare il Mare (No Wave can comb the Sea) - Fotografia Italiana“ Galleria Nicoletta Rusconi, Milan, Italy


„Objeto de replica“ ARTIUM Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

XIV. Rohkunstbau Drei Farben Weiss“ Rohkunstbau, Berlin, Germany 

Helsinki School“ Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

Boogie Woogie - Art and Jazz“ Taidehalli - Kunsthalle Helsinki, Helsinki, Finnland

Photo Finnish - The Helsinki School“ Stenersenmuseet, Oslo, Finnland

„Ola Kolehmainen & Pertti KekarainenGalleri Brandstrup, Oslo, Finnland


Ideal City – Invisible Cities“ Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

Minimal quotation“ artfinder Galerie x Mathias Güntner, Hamburg, Germany

Intersections - Between Past and Future „ Pori Taidemuseo / Pori Art Museum, Pori Finnland

„Presence“ Wäinö Aaltonen Museum, Turky, Finnland  

Opterracuna“ Robert Miller Gallery, New York City, USA


The Helsinki School - A New Approach“ Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany


Zeitgenössische finnische FotografieGalerie Christian Roellin, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Finnische Fotografie14-1 Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany


New Pictures - Brotherus, Kella, Kolehmainen, Lajunen, Parantainen“ Tennis Palace, Helsinki, Finnland

„Northern Spell“ UTAC - University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, Canada

Photography and Video“ Sara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere, Finnland



„Ola Kolehmainen: A Building Is Not a Building“

David Elliott, Alistar Hicks, Arja Miller und Taru Tappola, Hatje Cantz



Ola Kolehmainen: Abstraction, Fraction, Recreation“ Martina Fuchs und Mark Gisbourne, Hatje Cantz



Ola Kolehmainen: Search for Mastery“ Klaus Honnef und Ferdinand Protzman Bielefeld, Kunstverein Bielefeld



OPUS 26“  gravure portfolio Qinterro


The National Museum of Photography Collection, Denmark

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Collection, Germany

Carl Gustav Ehrnrooth Collection, Finnland

Artek Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

The City of Madrid Collection, Spain

Societé Générale Collection, Paris, France

Colección Pilar Citoler, Madrid, Spain

Deutsche Bank, UK, Germany 

DZ Bank, Germany

Fundación Centro Ordóñez-Falcón de Fotografía, ES

Peter W. Klein Collection, Germany

Malmö Art Museum, Sweden

Roland Berger Collection, Munich, Germany

European Investment Bank, Luxembourg

Lindell Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Rafaela Seppälä Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Vexi Salmi Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Nokia Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Ari Lahti Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Heino Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Rovaniemi, Finnland

Espoo Art Museum, Finnland

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finnland

Saastamoinen Foundation, Espoo, Finnland

SOK Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

City of Muurame, Finnland

UPM-Kymmene Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

Helsinki City Art Museum, Finnland

Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finnland

Kouri Collection, New York, USA

Lars Swanljung Collection, Helsinki, Finnland

State Art Council, Stockholm, Schweden

State of Finland, Finnland