In 2016, Heikki Marila turned his gaze to independent Finland’s painful first steps. In this monumental series of paintings memories silenced by history are given a powerful voice and form. From the series, which has become viscerally topical with the war in Ukraine, eleven works have been chosen for Laukko. With this exhibition we want to honour the memory of those who have perished in the brutal currents of wars near and far.
In the paintings Marila forces himself and his viewers to experience the moments of horror of White and Red terror. Executions and prison camps painted from archive photographs have been placed at a distance in the works’ background. With this receding painting technique, Marila reminds viewers of muted traumas growing dimmer down the chain of generations. At the same time, the paintings are detached from the specific time of the events and become part of the universal history of cruelty and suffering.
In the spirit of German neo-expressionism, Marila interprets the weight of grief and shame that we as a nation and as individuals have carried with us from the atrocities committed in our wars. The exhibition’s stunning impact springs from the marks of the red oil stick hovering over the intentionally smooth surfaces. The drawn line depicts the emotional states ranging from fury to despair that the cycle of violence arouses in Marila.
Memories of 1918 live on in the histories of families and places. Apokalypsis is the sombre landscape of the soul of Lahti and Karelia. Marila has based the painted portraits on his family photograph album and on fragmentary memories associated with his extended family. The works speak of his attempt to envision his own male, Finnish bloodline.