Born in Denmark in 1970.
Lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Through photography, Nicolai Howalt explores time, light, the concepts of life and becoming, materiality and immateriality. His approaches are alternately documentary, experimental and conceptual. His most recent explorations, developed according to a set of rules, have led him to capture the vital and destructive rays of the sun in Light Break (2015). In Endings (2011) he deals with life turned to dust again through pictures of human ashes. Elements (2016) showcased the transformative properties of primary elements of the periodic table (gold, silver, copper and iron) – by media of a photosensitive emulsion the artist transferred them on to sheets of different metals. The series Silver migrations (2018) is the materialization through images of the process by which expired photo paper (1962) alters. In other words, it describes the chemical evolutions caused by time and humidity. Here shades of soft and glowing greys and strong whites lead us into a world reminiscent of micro-organisms, of shapes on the verge of an inevitable subsequent migration. Only the act of developing the photosensitive sheet photo paper, the artist’s sole intervention, has halted the evolution. With this last series, Nicolai Howalt questions the role of the photographer in the context of digital era, by turning himself into mere revealer of images.



Nicolai Howalt

12.05 > 02.07.2022

With Specimens, Nicolai Howalt shares the visions and discoveries that his own curiosity allows him to access. The passage of time is materialised, the systems and structures of nature are made manifest, including in terms of their exceptions. The similarities and potentials carried by the micro and macro-worlds are the basis for ever-renewed wonder at the fragility of being.


Nicolai Howalt
Esben Klemann
Pipaluk Lake

16.11. 2019 – 11.01.2020

The exhibition Migrations brings together three artists, the photographer Nicolai Howalt, the visual artist Esben Klemann and the sculptor Pipaluk Lake – who exploit, each in their own way, the migration of matters.
Migrations thus shows how a world invisible to the eye, regulated by its own rules, causes movements, whether spontaneous or born from the impact of voluntary interventions… Through the scope of the artworks, the very concrete field of the materials reveals the fundamental processes that are inherent to our existences.

de travers (sideways)

Nicolai Howalt
Esben Klemann

7.11.2017 – 6.01.2018

Nicolai Howalt practices a concrete abstraction, an enlarged reality that most often starts with elements of nature to seize less visible dimensions of our existence. Esben Klemann questions matters and forms in a fun and innovative approach – going against established concepts. With de travers (sideways), the two artists have entered a dialog by taking possession of the gallery space in an unusual way. Nicolai Howalt and Esben Klemann wanted to make their respective fascinations dialog together, while challenging each other, by turning the common artistic practices upside down.

Off site

DEN FRIE, Center of contemporary art, Copenhagen

Synliggørelser (Renderings)

Participation : Nicolai Howalt

07. 03 – 14. 06. 2020

Nicolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen

Variations of Old Tjikko

Nicolai Howalt

28. 08. 2020 – 24. 01. 2021

A single negative has become a total number of 96 variations created on approximately 96 different types of aged analogue light-sensitive photo papers.
“They are revealing a different kind of temporality, which we had forgotten we still inhabit. They remind us of a distant past that we are still stuck in. Like a powerful zoom disregarding any corresponding distancing, leaving us dizzy as we are simultaneously drawn away from and brought closer to what we can see.” Lars Kiel Bertelsen, Extract from the presentation of the book Old Tjikko
Photo: David Stjernholm


La peinture métaphysique de Peter Martensen


Septembre 2017
N° 704
Fabien Simode

Peter Martensen "ravage " l'entendement

Libre Belgique - Arts Libre

23 Août 2017
Semaine du 23 au 29 Août 2017
Roger-Pierre Turine

Vous avez dit "Complot" ?

Le Monde diplomatique

Juin 2015
Dossier illustré par Peter Martensen

Publications and texts

Nicolai Howalt - By looking down - couverture

Nicolai Howalt, By looking down I see up. By looking up I see down

Fabrik Books, 2017

Capturing invisible rays of light, ashes from human cremation, and the volatile reactions of primary elements on metal plates, melding aesthetic interests with those of natural science, this book offers readers a rare insight into the artist’s most recent explorations of exposure, fragility and change.

illustration - poème - see the sun

See the sun

a poem by Morten Søndergaard

Published in Light Break – Photography/Light Therapy – Nicolai Howalt, Fabrik Books, Copenhagen, 2015

Nicolai Howalt - Light Break - couverture

Nicolai Howalt, Light Break

Fabrik Books, 2015

Coffee table format artist’s book unfolds Danish visual artist Nicolai Howalt’s exploration of scientist and physician Niels R. Finsen’s original light-therapeutic methods, in spectacular full colour direct photography of invisible light.
Howalt’s fascination of Finsen’s experiments and apparatus is based on the obvious similarities between the basic elements of photography and Finsen’s medical phototherapy. In both cases, light rays are passed through specially crafted lenses and filters onto photosensitive material.
Finsen discovered that invisible light rays, at the periphery of the electromagnetic spectrum, had the property to heal. It is these same rays Howalt is interested in, now taking advantage of the sunlight’s ability to blacken photographic emulsion.

illustration - Nicolai Howalt - Light Break - Making-of

Towards the Light: Histories of Photography and Phototherapy [excerpt]

Tania Woloshyn

Published in Light Break – Photography/Light Therapy – Nicolai Howalt, Fabrik Books, Copenhague, 2015

Nicolai Howalt - Old Tjikko - couverture

Nicolai Howalt, Old Tjikko

Fabrik Books, 2019

The tree, Old Tjikko, stands in a deserted landscape on a mountainside at a height of 1,000 meters in Dalarna, Sweden, and with its impressive age of 9,500 years is considered to be the oldest tree in the world. Visual artist Nicolai Howalt has photographed this exceptional spruce, in itself about 5 meters tall. A single negative has become the many different photographs in this book: a total number of 96 variations created on approximately 96 different types of aged analogue light-sensitive photo papers, many of which are long past their expiration date. The result is an almost organic diversity of perception and expression; an aesthetic where the premise of each individual photograph, on par with the original motif itself, has become an integral part of the image-creating process.

9 questions to Nicolai Howalt

video, April 2020