The artworks by Juri Markkula are immediately fascinating. But the captivating artworks will soon turn enigmatic for the viewer who lingers before them. At once seductive and perplexing they move in a borderland between painting, object and sculpture. They are bereft of brushwork and other signs of a personal sender, are artworks that invoke surfaces and image traditions.
In the presence of some of the works we can sense an echo from Clement Greenberg and parts of the theorizing around American art from the time of expressionism and minimalism. But still, we may ask ourselves: What is it that we see? An immediate sensuality evokes questions beyond the persistent appeal of these works. At first glance, a form of realism with easily recognizable details, such as leaves and blades of grass. Or, as in Silver to Green, a work that suggests 18th century rococo frames, but where leaves and rocailles seem to be in a state of collapse and where the centre of the work shows a blank and empty surface. A surface seemingly chiselled out from the unbridled mass surrounding the artwork’s heart. In both cases, colour and foundation seem to be one.
What becomes evident, when the questions dissolve, is that experiencing Markkula’s work is above all a matter of a the eye, a way of seeing. But it is a way of seeing beyond all forms of image fetishism, beyond the fast, low-calorie consumption that characterises digital appropriation. Instead, we sense a quiet critique against the image’s ability to convince, as it manifests itself in an omnipresent viral existence. Before Juri Markkula’s artworks we become aware of and participants in a kind of metamorphosis where the illusory dimensions of the works also offer a certain resistance. The illusion is reinforced at the same time as it is punctured, and this quality of Markkula’s work renders them an almost hypnotic capacity. Here, the materiality of the foundation and the pigments of the surface form a complete unity. Nevertheless, it is, paradoxically, a partially divided unity. Or, rather a unity which holds a crevice that lets us sense the astonishing span between the spectrum of an additive mixture of colours and that which is hidden underneath the earth.
Juri Makkula was born in 1970 in Åbo, Finland. He lives and works on Gotland. Markkula was educated at Pernby School of Painting, 1995–1996, and the the Royal Institute of Art, 1996–2002. He has shown his work at Konsthallen in Hishult, 2012; Ausstellungshalle Hawerkamp, Münster, Germany, 2011; Angelika Knäpper Gallery, Stockholm, 2009; Skissernas Museum, Lund, 2009; Konstnärshuset, Stockholm, 2008; Gotlands Museum, 2007; Nacka Konsthall, 2007 and Galleri Knäpper + Baumgarten, Stockholm, 2005.
Work by Juri Markkula are included in the collections at e.g. Skissernas Museum, Lund and the Public Art Agency of Sweden, Stockholm. Public artworks by Juri Markkula can be found at Hemse Folkhögskola, Gullinsalen, Gotland; The Government Office, Stockholm, the Public Art Agency of Sweden, Stockholm, and at the Swedish National Heritage Board.
Juri Markkula has received several awards, including the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s arbetsstipendium: Tvåårigt arbetsstipendium, 2008; Ettårigt arbetsstipendium, 2005.