27 March – 19 April 2015 Susanna Iivanainen, It is said we die twice


The series It is said we die twice is in a way a monument to people who have passed. It contains ink paintings based on images of people’s faces on old photographs I’ve found and cenotaphs – including one image of a pet.

The name of the series refers to the saying that we die a second time when no one is left to remember us. I don’t know if anyone remembers the people in my paintings, but I have studied their faces, thought about them and portrayed them according to my own interpretation. It felt liberating to paint stangers. I was able to study the images free of any background information and interpret them according to my own ideas. I’ve cropped the faces into a close-up, giving focus to facial features and eyes. I’ve left out most of the clothes and hairdos to minimize the importance of time.

Time and its passing is one of the objects of my study. Eventually we all turn to dust. Photographs fade and images disappear from their surface, but also statues made of stone will change. They become darker and worn, they crumble and grow moss and alga. Wind and rain smoothen their surface. It’s said that time passes us by. It does, but it also wears on us.

While painting these people, I felt there was something mysterious about them. Even with their faces tightly cropped, with shirt collars and other evidence of time not visible, they still appear somehow different from the portraits of today. I wonder if it could be that having ones photograph taken used to be a rare and significant event, which can be seen as a feeling of solemnity and seriousness in the pictures.

Susanna Iivanainen

Susanna Iivanainen is a visual artist based in Helsinki. She graduated in 2006 with an MA from the Department of Art at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Iivanainen has had several private exhibitions in Finland and taken part in group exhibitions both in Finland and abroad.


27 March –19 April 2015
It is said we die twice

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