Heikki Marila – Paintings at Galerie Forsblom 25 August – 25 September 2016 [FI]
25 August – 25 September 2016
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 on the collective and private level. The exhibition will be reinstalled on a weekly basis under the curatorship of Timo Valjakka, mirroring how memory traces tend to alter with time, with each new hang giving a palpable form and voice to silenced memories.
Marila’s new paintings can be grouped under four 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 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 material. 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. The fourth group of paintings is based on the traditional Finish ryijy rug, providing a contrast in both form and content to the other works with their green palette and ornamentality.
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.