I’m a sea captain’s son, and much of the time when I was young father was away at sea. That’s why I never had a chance to really get to know him. When he returned home upon his retirement, he got dementia very soon and lost his ability to speak. He died in 1985, when I was 26 and studying at Kankaanpää Art School for the last year. I have since then understood that my father’s absence and death have had a great impact on my life. The experience has also affected my artistic work and my choice of subject.
Jaakko Niemelä’s artistic work has since 2012 revolved around a research project on the theme of seafaring and memories of his father. He has followed in the footsteps of his father by visiting by boat the same places where his father had been. He has documented the journeys by drawing, writing and taking both photographs and video, using the materials later to create animations and multimedia installations. The guiding star of the project has been Niemelä’s desire to reacquaint himself with his father.
One key element in Niemelä’s recent works are large constructions erected in the gallery, which make the spatial experience extremely physical and poignant. Nostalgia in the Studio gallery is an installation that consists of two animations projected on a large scale and accompanying structural elements. The animations depict an ocean-going ship on stormy seas and how it gradually breaks down. The soundscape consists of a choral piece by Baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti and ambient music composed by Jaakko Niemelä’s nephew, thus bringing together three generations of the Niemelä family.
Nostalgia explores the central themes of Niemelä’s art: the breaking and disintegration of large structures, relinquishment and longing, destruction, decay and ending. The first piece in the project was presented at the Lönnström Art Museum in Rauma in 2014. Since then the project has been featured at the Rauma Maritime Museum and the Kunstplass gallery in Oslo in 2017.
Jaakko Niemelä (b. 1959 in Rauma) has worked as an artist for over 30 years, extending his practice from printmaking to installation, light art and video. He studied the architecture of light in Aalto University, and in his work he makes use of his skill as lighting designer. In addition to exhibiting extensively both in Finland and internationally, Niemelä has also created several public monuments and has curated exhibitions. He also collaborates with his wife, sculptor Helena Hietanen.