Johanna Laaja is interested in life as it is lived

The artist is fascinated by abandoned cars, residential buildings and interiors.

Johanna Laaja, Slash and Burn Clearing, 2021, oil on canvas Photograph: Ninja Haaga

Living in Pyhäkylä, Suomussalmi, Johanna Laaja’s artistic work is inspired by her everyday environment in Kainuu and North Ostrobothnia. She works from photographs and researches the history and stories of the locations carefully.

In her paintings, favourite cars and places are sometimes captured from different angles and in different times of the year. Her work as an artist has become common knowledge in the region, and even strangers sometimes come to tell her where to find abandoned vehicles.

In addition to vehicles left in forests, the artist’s subject-matter includes abandoned residential buildings and interiors. She sees cars and living environments as narrators of a bygone era with distinct personalities. In the landscapes and in the stories of overgrown yards, dilapidated buildings, clear-cuts, bushes and scrublands are as important as abandoned cars and buildings.

Johanna Laaja and her artist partner Jaakko Heikkinen organise a summer exhibition together in their working and living space in the old Pyhäkylä school. An art collective with interdisciplinary multi-arts activities has formed around their Taikavintti (“Magic Attic”) Gallery.


Johanna Laaja: Behind Time

Oulu Art Museum 3.–23.11.2023

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