JARMO MÄKILÄThe Hour of Wolf
The works of Finnish artist Jarmo Mäkilä are autobiographical, explorations of his own experiential world and feelings that nevertheless handle matters also on the general level. In his art he examines his own past, his childhood, which reflects on the present. However, this past does not affect just him, but everyone, and especially the men of his own generation. As Mäkilä says, "In childhood the key to how things are today can be found."
Mäkilä´s subject - groups of boys and their doings, the formative years of the artist - is repeated from one painting to another. The boys are clones of one another, like archetypes of little boys. In the dark forest they carry out their secret, often cruel rituals to the beat of drums, swear oaths and sacrifice animals that assume the role of surrogate sufferers. The boys define their manhood in the footsteps of the traditional roles given to men and the models of men passed on from fathers to sons.
In a painting that depicts a classroom from the artist´s school years, portraits of the nation´s presidents look down at the future citizens, like fathers looking at their sons. One boy is cowering in the corner in shame. The artist´s childhood home, a post-war veteran´s house, is depicted in the background, and a miniature model of the house is also on display in the exhibition. Children grow up in the shadow of their parents´ wartime traumas. The images tell the story of a silenced Finnish identity. In the installation "Seittien linna" (Castle of Webs) visitors can look into this kind of house, in the ruins of which ghosts from the past are still actively present yet invisible.
By means of deliberate artistic techniques, such as repeating images of boys dressed in the same uniforms, Mäkilä creates a tormenting atmosphere. Already in itself, the beauty of the forest scenery in the paintings, but especially when contradictorily combined with the harshness of the subject, makes an impression on the viewer.
The content of Mäkilä´s paintings is summarised in these excerpts written about his recent exhibition "Children´s Crusade" at Galerie Michael Schultz in Berlin: "Mäkilä highlights the traumatic pain spots of male socialisation in which violence and domination are the signs of masculinity. In terms of the brutality of the paintings, however, his masterful painting technique is almost paradoxical" (Laila Niklaus: TIP BERLIN). "The way in which Mäkilä´s "Lost Boys" act wildly in a pack in the forest reflects the problematic male imagery of our society with a precision that creates a shiver down the viewer´s spine." (Christopher Tannert: exhibition catalogue)