Marika Mäkelä

Black or White

oil and pigment on canvas • 128 x 100 cm




“Black or White” is like a dance. Spirited white lines feel as if they have been born out of the movements of a dancer and the flaring folds of her skirts or maybe even born of the rapid movements of a lamp or torch flame in the dark. Using a single line, Marika Mäkelä (b. 1947) has achieved an incomparable work of movement.

Beyond the movement of the line a standing figure appears, its head sheathed in a yellow mask. It is like a lamp and the source of a line of light. If, in light-hearted comparison, this work is compared with Juhana Blomstedt’s (1937–2010) 1960s famed ‟study in neon tubes”, Mäkelä has moved over to using an entirely new technique, that of the era of tubular fibre optics.
Archaic masks and decorative lines have featured prominently in Mäkelä’s works of recent years. The artist has developed a style using a decorative style that is both luxuriant and free of the shackles of geometric restrictions at the same time. Mäkelä has frequently broken unwritten rules and altered the perception of what is used ‟correctly” used in creating art. Along with Leena Luostarinen and Marjatta Tapiola, Mäkelä swept aside art conventions of the 1970s, that set serious realism against serious constructivism. Mäkelä took full advantage of the romantic possibilities behind gold leaf and not forgetting the allure of beaten metal’s lustre.

In the 1980s Mäkelä’s art works also went through a grey period, whose downward flowing, curtain-like surfaces give create a celebratory atmosphere and impressions of the enigmatic space beyond. As with Leonardo, the studied patina on the walls are the works’ link to reality. They are, however, not rote images rather free-hand paintings. In her works created in the 2000s Mäkelä has often taken advantage of relief effects and a variety of materials. Some of her works are like a sweet shop of colourful balls slipped into jar-shaped spaces, presenting clear visual pleasure.

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