Heikki Marila: Paintings
Galerie Forsblom 25.8.–25.9.2016
Opening with the artist in attendance 24.8.2016, 17.00–19.00
Ranking among Finland’s most renowned contemporary artists, Heikki Marila (b. 1966) mines the subject matter of his paintings from history. His new exhibition opening at Galerie Forsblom casts a glimpse back at Finland’s tentative first steps as an independent nation and the dark years of the Civil War. With Finland celebrating the first centenary of its independence next year, Marila pauses to reflect on the theme of memory and suppressed traumas, both collective and private. The exhibition will be rearranged on a weekly basis, reflecting how memory traces tend to alter with time, though each new hang will retain an equal degree of emotional intensity.
Marila’s new paintings can be grouped under three themes. The first consists of abstract compositions of emotionally laden symbols illustrating the difficulty of communication. The second group invokes the silenced stories of our fathers and forefathers, drawing on photographic material from the artist’s family albums and (partly unstable) reminiscences of his family history. The personae are offered to us as emblems of the collective Finnish identity, their subjectivity muted. Found images also form the basis of his third group of paintings, which draw on archived documents. Here the events of 1918 are presented as fuzzy background images overlaid with organic, drawing-like daubs of paint. The expressive surface patterns distance us from the background events, yet also infuse the works with a powerful sense of materiality, endowing emotions with a physical identity. Beyond their symbolism, the whites, blacks and reds also heighten the drama and contrasts. Silenced memories are given a voice and a palpable form in Marila’s paintings.
Marila is known for his large-scale oil paintings and allusions to art history, including biblical motifs, self-portraits and still life compositions with flowers. His expressive paintings are typically infused with paradoxical drama: they play on contrasts – spirituality, beauty and the sublime are mixed with fiery carnality and a hint of revulsion. His work has been exhibited widely throughout Finland, the Nordic countries and Europe. Marila won the Carnegie Art Award in 2012 and he lives and works in Turku.