Throughout his oeuvre, Heikki Marila has elaborated on a set of motifs and themes that are linked by an interest in bringing into view and monumentalizing phenomena that have gone unnoticed or been deemed unremarkable. He gives new life to age-old painterly motifs, accentuating aspects that invite viewers to challenge their ways of perceiving things.
Marila has always primarily been a painter, even when using other mediums. For him, colour serves as the central element of expression, both in the dimension of hue and as paint, a malleable material mixed from pigments. What is crucial is that art makes a statement. Colours and materials must serve this purpose. According to Marila, ‘Working in synergy with the theme, the ways of applying paint and the palette of colours should ideally both attract the viewer and, at times, cause disgust. An intense contrast between pleasure and repulsiveness can be experienced as something wonderfully brutal’.
As a form of visual art, there is a long tradition that painters cannot pretend to separate themselves or escape from. In Marila’s eyes, the alleged weight of the medium’s history is, in fact, something immensely liberating. ‘As everything has been painted already anyway, over and over again’, he emphasizes, ‘there is no pressure to invent something from the beginning’. Exploring new colour combinations and transpositions of mood, genre and format and varying his personal touch presents Marila with endless possibilities for affective contrasts and unpredictable visual articulations, based on pre-existing elements that may appear fixed in their meanings.