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Ola Kolehmainen

Rheinisches Bildarchiv

  • Attachment-1.jpg

    © Maija Toivanen

  • Ola Kolehmainen_20 Groß St. Martin 1150 I (RB-Archiv Köln c.1920), 2017.jpg

    © Ola Kolehmainen, Groß St. Martin 1150 I (RB-Archiv Köln c.1920), 2017

  • Ola Kolehmainen_21 Kölner Dom 1248-1880 II 2017.jpg

    © Ola Kolehmainen_21 Kölner Dom 1248-1880 II (RB-Archiv Köln c.1920), 2017

  • Ola Kolehmainen_21 St. Kunibert 1247 I 2017.jpg

    © Ola Kolehmainen_21 St. Kunibert 1247 I (RB-Archiv Köln c.1920), 2017

The Artist


Ola Kolehmainen (* 1964, Helsinki, Finland) has been living and working in Berlin since 2005. He studied journalism at the University of Helsinki and subsequently photography at the TaiK, the university of art and design in Helsinki. At the beginning of the 2000s he belonged to the successful first generation of artists at the so-called “Helsinki School”.

Ola Kolehmainen is known for his minimalistic abstract close-ups of architectural details, such as geometric surface structures or reflective window façades. In his early groups of works he deals with the modern 20th and 21st century buildings by architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto. At the heart of his precise and designerly oeuvre is confrontation with the interplay of structure, chromaticity, construction history and the location-specific lighting conditions of architecture. His reduced shots inspire questions concerning the reality of what is shown, the spatial experiencing of architectural photography, and buildings’ universal, timeless, ornamental fundamental character.

In his current, Cubist-looking photographs the artist deals with sacred interiors and exteriors, with synagogues, mosques, churches and cathedrals. Through the fragmentary assembly of multiple individual shots, which have been taken from various, slightly displaced positions, Kolehmainen shifts perspectives and, in doing so, breaks the symmetries of familiar visual axes.

The Archive


The Rhenish Image Archive of the City of Cologne currently comprises some 5.4 million photographs. Its photographic stocks are used for research and scientific purposes, but are equally available for commercial image exploitation and private use. Since its founding in 1936 it has been specializing in the production of sophisticated object shots in and on behalf of Cologne’s museums. Also to be found in its stock, with the city curator’s and Cologne Fair’s analogue image archives, are architecture shots plus documentary shots of Cologne’s trade fairs and specifically of the art trade. These focuses are supplemented by a dedicated collection of predominantly analogue photograph stocks, among them, for example, Chargesheimer (1924-1971), Heinrich Ewertz (1852-1916), Peter H. Fürst (*1939), Jossi Kaufmann (*1936-2017)), Heinrich Pieroth (1893-1964), Karl Hugo Schmölz (1917-1986), Kurt Wagner (1936-2009) or Fritz Zapp (1882-1960).

“The Rheinisches Bildarchiv guards  many photographs. These are predominantly perceived as documentary photographs for the sake of their illustrated motifs but, at the same time, as haptically tangible objects – retouched glass plate negatives, for example – they are important testimonies of photographic history. Ola Kolehmainen’s approach pays tribute to both aspects in a highly exciting way. In his works, he breaks with viewing habits and, as a result, motivates conscious seeing. Kolehmainen brings the negative, so to speak, out of its shadowy existence as a means to an end into the limelight of artistic scrutinization of its own aesthetic qualities.”


- Dr. Johanna Gummlich, Director of the Rheinisches Bildarchiv

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