Jorma Puranen (born 1951, Helsinki, Finland) explores in his work themes of history, culture, identity and memory, creating a dialogue between the past and the present.


In the series Icy Prospects conceptual images of northern landscapes merge with aspects of mythology, history and the dream-like. The images reflect a place that is borderless, floating in time. 'For fifteen years I have been engaged in landscape related projects in which I have aimed to generally prevent the beholders from the opportunity of directly admiring the scenery by putting something in between them and the subject'. (Jorma Puranen)


With the series, Shadows, reflections and all that sort of thing, Puranen readdresses historical portraits, using 17th and 18th Century paintings as his point of departure. Rather than concentrating on the objects themselves, he studies the reflections, shadows, brushstrokes and cracks on their surfaces; the layers of uncertainty in between the object and the viewer. As he writes, 'Photography's capacity to register reflections is actually its singular gift. What other medium deals so expressively with the play of light and shadow?'


In Imaginary Homecoming, Puranen enlarged photographic images and texts, drawn from ethnological and anthropological collections, and physically placed them into the northern landscape. He questions the past and modes of belonging, the relationship between memory and the experience of place and the cultural meanings relating people to the land.


His recent exhibition at Purdy HicksThey Could Hear a Faraway Thunder continues his long-term work in re-animating the history and legacy of Arctic explorations. Using archival sources and different techniques of re-photography, the works explore and visualise relations of history, knowledge, landscape and culture.


'Jorma Puranen was one of the founding members of the Helsinki School, which established a new, more conceptually focused Nordic sensibility in the photographic arts of the early 1990s.. Its members are interested in photographic practice as a tool for thinking, exploring ways to translate the passage of time and the phenomena of nature through an understanding of light as a raw material of creation.' (Alasdair Foster)


Puranen is now one of Finland’s most celebrated photographers. In 2005 he received the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland, the state’s most prestigious award made to an artist. His work is held in many major international collections including: Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Victoria & Albert Museum, London. His distinguished career has included a tenure as Professor of Photography at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki.