Esa Ylijääskö captured the spirit of sauna to his photos

Esa Ylijääskö’s series Spirit of Sauna pictures sauna as what it is to us Finns; a sacred place. The exhibition will open on May 18th at Bang Bang Gallery. The Gallery is located on Aalto EE’s premises in the main building of the Aalto University School of Business.


A myth says that saunas have a power of healing. People use to heal themselves self by whipping their bodies in steamy saunas with birch whisks usually. You thank the spirit with a ritual when you throw heat on the huge pile of hot stones – calling in the spirit of Sauna.

Ylijääskö shot dozens of saunas between 2016-2017 and the work is continuing. In this series you can find landscapes and people on top of saunas, all being a sensitive part of the spirit of sauna. Ylijääskö has his own unique style of black and white photography and his use of contrasts and lack of gray scale brings certain crispiness to his images.

Sauna is the first thing we build in a new home, it’s the first thing we do after a long trip."

“Sauna is a sacred place to all Finns. Architecture reminds religious buildings. It’s a religion. We build saunas in the most creative ways: in a car, a boat, a tent or even a train. It’s the first thing we build in a new home, it’s the first thing we do after a long trip. It’s a temple where everybody is equal. All undressed and naked. Men and women. It’s confessional where the sins are washed away” Ylijääskö says.

Esa Ylijääskö (born 1989) is a photographer originally from a small northern town of Keminmaa, Finland. He graduated from Jyväskylä College of Arts. He’s well known of his personal in-depth documentary work on the victims of the Syrian civil war.

Ylijääskö has been awarded  in the Magnum Photos Showcase 2012."

Ylijääskö has been awarded  in the Magnum Photos Showcase 2012, Gomma Grant 2016, Carina Appel Award 2017, FotoFinlandia award 2018. He was in VII mentor program in 2017.

His works have been exhibited in Officine Fotografiche (Milan, Italy), Werkstattgalerie (Berlin, Germany), Galleria Uusi Kipinä (Lahti, Finland), Eigenleben der Galerie Neurotitan Schwarzenber (Berlin, Germany), Ratamo Galleria (Jyväskylä, Finland), Fotoleggendo Festival (Rome, Italy), VII exhibition in Paris during Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris, Gazebook Photo Book Festival (Sicily, Italy), Next Generation -Young Eyes of Photojournalism (Helsinki, Finland),FotoIstanbul Festival, International Short Film Festival ‘Tran.s.cend’ (Istanbul, Turkey).

His images can be found in publications like The New York Times, VICE, Suomen Kuvalehti, Huvudstadsbladet and Helsingin Sanomat.

More information


The exhibition will be open by appointment (contact

Heli Mäenpää, Creative Director, Gallerist, Lecturer
Bang Bang Gallery
Tel. +358 50 5110 765,

Bang Bang Gallery

Bang Bang Gallery celebrates young creative talent in collaboration with Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE). By welcoming fresh names in Finnish photography and introducing them to Aalto EE’s clientele, the gallery aims to provide the possibility for interesting encounters. Every three months a new artist and his or her latest series will be exhibited at Bang Bang Gallery, with the possibility of making a purchase. The gallery is curated by Heli Mäenpää, a lecturer at Aalto University, creative director and passionate supporter of young artists.

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