12 FEB – 6 MARCH 2022
Secular Light
Galleri Thomassen
Gothenburg Sweden

Juri Markkula’s discerning exhibition Secular Light has a dizzying range. The displayed works encompass both the terrestrial and the celestial. A shiny baptismal font, three magnificent black-and-white photographs of Rouen Cathedral, several monochrome visual objects and works on paper form part of Juri Markkula’s ongoing study of light, space and colour.
The baptismal font is a slightly enlarged 3D-printed copy of a 12th-century font from Etelhem Church in Gotland. With a pictorial language harking back to an early Christian image cult and a mother-of-pearl shifting covering, the object appears as an ancient meteorite. Like some kind of
domestic alien, fallen from the skies. The same interference colour is found in the monochrome images, which I think of as sky mirrors. For that is what they remind me of, these surfaces, seductively shimmering like late summer skies.
Claude Monet’s water lily paintings – the Nymphéas – are also sky mirrors. Reflecting the firmament as much as they depict aquatic plants, the perspectives are reversed, reality is simultaneously dissolved and concretized. In his photographs of Rouen Cathedral, Juri Markkula depicts another of Monet’s famous motifs. In three photographs, Markkula is searching for the painter’s original gaze angle of the Cathedral façade.
The motif is also of personal interest to Juri Markkula, who, as early as the beginning of the 1990s, was painting copies of Monet’s Cathedral paintings. It is not difficult to detect points of contact between the play of light on the rough surface of the church façade and Markkula’s characteristic ground reliefs, where sticks and leaves form erosions and elevations. In both artists’ work we see sections of the world, closed off from the environment.
According to the photographer and museum director John Coplans, Monet did not dissolve the perspective in his paintings. Not even in his late Nymphéas that almost completely encompass the viewer. Instead, Coplans claimed, Monet succeeded in the perspective enclosing the entire pictorial surface. Monet strove for what he called enveloppe – to depict an evenly flowing light; the air or the atmosphere between the painter and the motif.
This is perhaps reminiscent of what Juri Markkula attempts in his art, even if he goes a step further and brings to the fore the object’s own space. Or rather, attempts to turn the object into nothing more than space. Into infinite matter.

Text by Magnus Bons
Translation: Olsson Diamond Text