In Heikki Marila’s monumental canvases contemporary versions of exuberant floral still lifes from art history are presented. Marila’s paintings blend a baroque elegance with dramatic contrasts: black backgrounds, thick layers of paint and a structure that sometimes veers towards the grotesque and the carnal.
The rich and detailed paintings of the baroque period were full of symbolism. During the Dutch ‘tulipmania,’ certain tulip bulbs were worth more than others. The Semper Augustus with its petals of blood-red flares vividly streaked on a white ground was one of the most coveted. This unusual and elegant variety can be found in the work of prominent Dutch still-life painters such as Jan Davidsz de Heem as well as in Johannes Bosschaert’s “Still Life with Tulips”, from 1628, which hangs in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Flower arrangements are a recurrent theme in painting and this gives Marila the freedom to experiment with the pastosity of colour and the boldness of brush strokes. Because we already have an idea of what a floral still life should look like, Marila doesn’t need to reproduce a real bouquet in order to create his paintings, but can instead draw from memory in order to reference existing work within the genre.
In 2012 Marila was awarded the first prize in the Carnegie Art Award, winning out over a tough field of 17 other Nordic artists. Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki has represented Marila since 2015 and his work is included in several important collections, amongst others the Ståhl Collection, Norrköping and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation Art Collection in Rovaniemi.