Leena Mertanen (b. 1986, Finland) is a self-taught fine art photographer who examines various aspects of humanity, culture and femininity in her distinctive, often staged self-portraits.
She uses herself as a model in her absurd, dark, humorist, emotional works making personal universal, combining often unexpected elements and purist technical know-how to various different ways of thematic approach to modern photography.
Drawing inspiration from all kinds of cultural history including fashion, music, films and literature, her style is filled with pop cultural references and intellectual psychological analysis on the human condition.
Without an upper degree in the arts or photography, she relies on her instincts in her work using past personal experiences as material and source to her methodic working process and artistic practise.
Having severe Stendhal-syndrome and almost unnaturally strong bond to the arts, her work is heavily influenced by expressionist painters and painting techniques she began studying out of curiosity at the age of 15, applying them later to photography.
Her often large-scale works have been in several private collections since her debut in 2005 when she was finishing her high school diploma at the Savonlinna Upper Secondary School of Arts and Music.
Giving lots of credit to her supportive former teachers, she began her career with modest film cameras and sometimes still hand- pulls prints of her more abstract artistic practise.
Mertanen got accepted to Central Saint Martins UK in 2015 to study photography, but began her academic art studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki instead - a Finnish elite school, which she infamously quit after six months for personal reasons.
She may, or may not finish her bachelor and master degree eventually, but right now she focuses on her work - almost a scientific approach to photography, and meticulous analytic studies on expression and her emotional range as an artist. She is known as hard-working perfectionist.