I first saw Lukkarinen’s work at Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki. Large-scale portraiture paintings that appear eery from afar, the paintings become abstract, thick applications of paint up close. While Lukkarinen cites Gerhard Richter as an influence, his actual painterly practice is more akin to an amalgam of Georges Seurat’s pointillism and Chuck Close's portraiture. By blowing up smaller photographic portraits, and applying differing shades of paint in organic square forms, Lukkarinen has succeeded in achieving pixellation, a phenomenon that occurs images on the Internet, through the ancient artistic practice of painting.
Below is a portrait by Lukkarinen and a video documenting Lukkarinen's practice.
The artistic practices of contemporary artists using available Internet images as source material pose all sorts of interesting legal questions. For an artist like Lukkarinen, does the "sitter" of the original photograph have a claim against his use? Laws on the right of publicity usually cover the use of unique indicators such as name, image and likeness, and generally, you cannot use the likeness of another person for commercial purposes (without their consent). While specific rights are different from state to state, these rights protect all 2-legged people, whether they are famous or not. (Most of the existing case law on the right of publicity involve famous people, because famous people arguably capitalize on their likeness which is directly tied to their own brand, and they have more at stake when they are associated with other entities.)
At the end of the day, however, context is key. Even though Lukkarinen is using the likeness of others in his artistic practice, having a photo of yourself (that you yourself uploaded into a public sphere) transformed into a beautiful painting is not derogatory, but perhaps a celebration of ways in which contemporary artists find and use source material.