12:00 – 18:00


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The artist’s own life and the artworld merge in Rauha Mäkilä’s solo exhibition, TARA, which concludes Helsinki Contemporary’s spring season. Mäkilä’s recent paintings speak about humanity, being an artist and being together. She takes the themes of her works from her own world of experience and living environment, showing how things that are near at hand and mundane have value and are worth painting.

The set of works to be displayed in the gallery in May–June consists of recognisable, relatable moments that depict situations in family life. Of the background to the painting Tara and Momo Mäkilä says: “I thought for a long time about where to start off with a view to working on a solo exhibition. It felt pretentious to forcibly construct an exhibition around something that didn’t feel like it was my own or personally experienced. The urge to remain honest to myself was already strong right at the beginning of the working process.

“I decided to carry on working with my visual notes. Taking your own world of experience onto a more general level of representation in itself creates its own challenges. I went over to painting with oils after a ten-year break. Everything seemed to slow down, and I wanted to somehow capture that slowness and calmness in an artwork.”

The three-dimensional effect of the works in the exhibition came about in evenly lit, almost shadowless works, stretching the perspective. Using guidelines that split the image surface, Mäkilä creates non-spaces and places, moving closer to and further away from the subject. The paintings hung on the walls are also motifs inside a physical work of art, windows into another painted world. Mäkilä’s characteristic background paint masses overlap, crease and crack like a broken mirror. The relationship between the visual subject matter and the fragmented environment is built up through the impenetrable and open gazes of the main characters. Family members, loved ones, pets, art objects and household items form mutually surprising compositions.

Mäkilä plans her paintings carefully in advance, but leaves room for surprise and coincidence – space for the painting to be and to become an event in its own way, via the means of painting. A central feature of the TARA exhibition is the immediacy of everyday life, encountering it as your own, as yourself. Also central is materiality, the quintessence of the paint.

“The switch to oil paints completely revolutionized my understanding of when a work is finished. While working with acrylic, you have to decide things quickly and, when I think that the work is getting stuck or I am, so to speak, overworking it, when there is no room for guesswork, then it is lost. Conversely, oils behave quite differently, and I have caught myself digging out works of mine that I already considered finished, to repaint them. Of course, there had been an underlying feeling that the painting does not work or is not irritating in the right way, but is too disturbing, and consequently I don’t think the pieces fit together.”

For Mäkilä, the meaning of art and of a painting is formed in encountering and looking at it. “I see the power of art as being in its freedom, and in not trying to overly control it or the looking at it. Any art that makes its point too clearly is in danger of falling flat simply in order to illustrate that point. The power of many works, even of a personal one, may not reveal itself until later.”

Rauha Mäkilä (b. 1980) is a Helsinki-based artist who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2007. In her art Mäkilä draws on situations from everyday life and the imagery of popular culture. In recent years, she has also reflected on her own position and work as an artist. Her paintings have appeared in numerous solo and collective exhibitions, including the Chart Art Fair, Copenhagen; Gallery Susanne Pettersson, Stockholm; Munch Gallery, New York; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Espoo Museum of Modern Art – EMMA, Espoo; Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg; and Landskrona Museum, Landskrona, Sweden. Her works are included in several major collections, including those of the City of Gothenburg, HAM Helsinki Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Niemistö, Saastamoinen Foundation and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. Thank you to The Arts Promotion Centre Finland and The Finnish Cultural Foundation for supporting the artist’s work.

Thu 18 May 2023 – 02 Jul 2023 12:00 – 18:00


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Bulevardi 10, 00120 Helsinki