© Kuvasto 2016. Photo: © Bank of Finland
Tapani Mikkonen (b. 1952) was known in the 1970s for his realistic, mundane, personal wood engravings and linocuts. They tended to portray the political movements of the day and the artist’s own working class background. Over the following decade, Mikkonen’s work went through a radical change in direction. Mikkonen began doing lithographs and his works started to be dominated by strongly coloured and defined images drawn from nature.
His expressive, fast-paced style doesn’t necessarily fit into any ordinary framework and Mikkonen experimented with making larger and larger pieces. He demonstrated that lithographic technology could compete on an equal footing with monumentally-sized paintings. The largest of his works is the 12-metre-long commission made for the construction company Skanska entitled “Memories of a Millennium” (2001).
Mikkonen reformed Finnish lithographic art as well as being one of the key persons involved in reviving the lithographic printing press Imprimo (1987–1999). The Imprimo circle included such artists as Kuutti Lavonen, Kristian Krokfors, Risto Suomi, Jukka Mäkelä, Pekka Ryynänen, Marjatta Tapiola. In addition to the long list of Finnish artists, Avant-garde artists Siim-Tanel Annus and Jüri Okas from Estonia were part of the Imprimo circle.
Mikkonen did not concentrate merely on lithographic art. He has been a significant and prolific painter. This body of work includes a free and unshrinking use of colour. “Flowerlike” is a handsome example of Mikkonen’s abstract style. In fact, the subject itself is a minor point. Painting is the confrontation of colour, palette knife and large canvas. It is a battle in which Mikkonen comes out the victor.