Caj Bremer, Photographs from the 1950s and 60s, 5.4.–8.6.
5.4.–8.6. Jyväskylä Art Museum Gallery
Caj Bremer, Photographs from the 1950s–1960s
April 5th – June 8th, at the Jyväskylä Art Museum
Caj Bremer is one of the great names in Finnish photo journalism. This exhibition is comprised of black and white photographs taken in the 1950s and 1960s. For this exhibition, Caj Bremer has assembled a collage of faces he photographed from around the world. In addition, the art museum presents the series "Kaunissaari", "Torremolinos" and “Laughter Increases Longevity”, along with two legendary images from Jyväskylä’s Grand Prix.
Caj Bremer describes photographing in the Kotka Island Kaunissaari, for the series ”Kaunissaari" published in the weekly newspaper Viikkosanomat in 1957: – At that time, Kaunissaari was a fishing village. An idyllic place in the beautiful archipelago landscape. I stayed on the island for a few days and photographed the village atmosphere. And atmosphere there was! From the early hours of the morning until late at night. Today there aren’t any fishermen left.
The series ”Torremolinos” was published in the weekly newspaper Viikkosanomat in 1959, about this project Caj Bremer recounts: – The Spanish sunshine coast and tourism are the subject of this series. Torremolinos was then, an old fishing village next to which rose the first hotel. I was more interested in the village than in the tourism. I spent my days photographing the village life both on the beach and along the narrow alleys. Subject matter was abundant! I was mesmerized by how the people were so positive and helpful even though I couldn’t speak Spanish. I spoke with my hands and eyes, got along fine, and couldn’t care less about the hotel or the tourists! 25 years later I revisited Torremolinos and there wasn’t a hint of fish or the village left. Only hotels with swimming pools, restaurants, bars and tourists. It was really sad! I am very happy to have been able to experience Torremolinos as it was, a real fishing village!
Caj Bremer’s ”World of Dreams” series (2015–) is shown at Gallery Ratamo from April 5th to 28th. About this 30-image series, the artist explains: The idea for the images in World of Dreams came about when there was a partial eclipse of the sun in 2015. I didn’t have much time to photograph the eclipse. Or to figure out how. I found a solution and after seeing the result, I decided to continue. That is how ”World of Dreams” began. My real dreams are strange and that is why I named this series as such. The artworks could be called light-prints, because the light source for each image comes from the sun in different forms. I wanted to show respect to the sun in this way, because the sun the whole reason for this project. The images were taken in my home environment here in the Sipoo archipelago and they are pure photographs, no photoshopping nor are they manipulated in any way. The details of how these images were made, remains in my knowledge only. The images are printed on thin Japanese Kozo paper and stretched in a frame. The frames do not have glass because I wanted to show the fine texture of the paper. This thin printing paper is no longer in production in Japan and so these images have become unique prints. Gallery Ratamo Website
About the Artist
Caj Bremer (b. 1929) is a Finnish photographer and academic. He is one of the most significant representatives of Finnish photo journalism.
Caj Bremer learned the basics of his trade as an studio assistant, but formally became a photograph when he began work at the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper in 1952. After this, he transferred to the Lehtikuva picture agency and in 1957, to the weekly newspaper Viikkosanomat. Similarly to the big American and European picture reports, the Viikkosanomat published reportages from near and far. These reportages played an important role in constructing a worldview for readers, before television took its first steps to becoming a regular source of information.
The weekly newspaper Viikkosanomat discontinued production in the late 1970s, but Bremer had already moved on to become a photographer for the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. He also photographed fashion both for salons in Helsinki and for the Me Naiset magazine. Later, Bremer took on a position as an art professor.
During the beginning of his career, Caj Bremer associated himself with the tradition of humanistic photography. This tradition was particularly influenced by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who focused on individual people and their immediate environment. Humanistic images pay homage to the subject and are often lyrically beautiful, although hard reality is often strongly present.
Bremer has a sharp and observant eye. His ability to control composition and light in quickly changing situations has never failed. He is able to strip an image down to the essential, creating a seemingly simple image which is often tainted by soft humour.
Humour is what sets Bremer’s photographs apart from the main stream. The emotionally serious tone of Finnish photography never took hold in Bremer’s production, instead he had the ability to extract joy and a generous smile.
Because of his exceptional social skills Bremer has also always been in control of his circumstances, be it in the dark alleys of the suburbs or presidential palaces. In his images, public figures seem easily approachable, like average people.
Text about the artist: Ateneum Art Museum
An extensive retrospective of Caj Bremer’s work was shown at the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki, in 2010, and at the Museum of Central Finland in 2012.
A joint opening will be held on Thursday April 4th, from 5–7pm at the Jyväskylä Art Museum and from 6–8pm at Gallery Ratamo.
Meet the artist on Friday May 26th, 3–4pm at Gallery Ratamo, and 4:30–5:30 at the Jyväskylä Art Museum.
For more information:
Leena Lokka, Jyväskylä Art Museum, tel. +358 50 542 0527. leena.lokka(at)jkl.fi