The Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present Harmony
Sisters, an installation of new work by Finnish artist Esko Männikkö.
Winner of the prestigious Deutsche Borse Prize in 2008, Männikkö
has exhibited internationally since representing Finland at the 1995
An ongoing series begun in 2005, Harmony Sisters is comprised of
intimate photographic portraits of domestic and wild animals, including
horses, cows, dogs, monkeys, and birds, taken near the artist!s home
in northern Finland or in zoos in Europe. Building upon an earlier series, Flora and Fauna, Harmony
Sisters testifies to Männikkö!s deep and respectful relationship with nature and his subjects. Tightly
composed and closely cropped, Männikkö!s highly detailed renderings of swirling fur, fleshy tongues,
wrinkled muzzles and glistening eyes approach beauty while bordering on the grotesque. In certain
images the animal subjects return the unflinching scrutiny of Männikkö!s camera and the gaze of the
viewer with an equally steady and powerfully engaging eye. As described by Julia Bryan-Wilson in
Artforum (Nov. 2006), “These engrossing – and gross – details resist the romantic conventions of
anthropomorphism: Each eye is singular, impassive, and intensely focused, a metaphor for Männikkö!s
camera and its sharp, monocular gaze.”
Filled edge-to-edge with strong, formal compositions in deeply saturated color pressed close to the picture
plane, the photographs take on the character of a painting. This quality is underscored by the large
wooden frames made by Männikkö, which both complement his images and comment ironically on
photography!s relationship to painting.
Recognized as “Young Artist of the Year” in Finland in 1995, Männikkö first gained international
prominence with his portraits of isolated Finnish bachelors in the “Far North” who epitomized a kind of
loneliness and self-reliance. In 1996, he was awarded an ArtPace international artist residency in San
Antonio, Texas, where he photographed the residents of two small Mexican American communities on the
border of South Texas. His ongoing series, Organized Freedom, focuses on abandoned houses resulting
from rural depopulation throughout northern Finland.
Works by Esko Männikkö are held in the collections of major museums including the Museum of
Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Foundation Cartier, the Moderna Museet and the Malmo Art Museum,
among others. He has been the subject of mid-career retrospectives at the Kursaal Art Museum, San
Sebastian, Spain and Millesgården Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden. Männikkö has published three books
including The Female Pike, which was selected for two compendiums of the most important books in the
history of photography.
The gallery and artist are grateful for the support of the Consulate General of Finland.