Heikki Marila: Paintings
Galerie Forsblom, January 11–February 10, 2019
Opening with the artist in attendance, January 10, 2019, 5–7 PM
Heikki Marila (b. 1966) ranks among Finland’s leading contemporary artists. His new monumental oils are steeped in conceptual influences from art history, their powerful expressionism fusing with the nimble grace of Baroque and Rococo painting. Their lyrical sensibility is heightened by a palette of nuanced pastels. The canvas is a riot of contrasts, mixing rich, sophisticated brushwork with overflowing exuberance of form. Marila’s free, generous technique celebrates the sensual seductiveness of the surface while also hinting at more complex depths that lie beneath.
Marila’s latest works were born of a compelling impulse to paint. Among his sources of inspiration were the magnificent ceiling frescos of the churches and castles seen by the artist on his recent travels in southern Germany, which struck him as resembling “cream cakes” in their extravagant opulence. Marila is fascinated by the lavish splendor of Baroque and Rococo art, a chapter of art history that is echoed intriguingly in his new paintings. Their idiom of expression is much flightier than Marila’s usual style – the series itself charts his evolution towards a more buoyant visual language. He places heavy accents on details, hinting at the presence of something great that remains hidden. Although the artist has abandoned figurative expression in favor of pure abstraction, the compositions evoke the idea of figures floating in the heavens. In keeping with the historical theme, some of his canvases are oval, marking a return to the round and oval forms favored by Marila in the 1990s.
Marila has exhibited widely around Finland, the Nordic countries and Europe. His works are represented in numerous notable collections, including the Sara Hildén Art Museum, the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Helsinki Art Museum HAM and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation Art Collection.