The exhibition of Jarmo Mäkilä’s (b. 1952) work continued the Sara Hildén Art Museum’s tradition of mounting retrospective exhibitions of Finnish artists, a series in which the emphasis is on a researcher-based presentation of artists who are represented in the Sara Hildén Foundation’s collection. Chronologically structured exhibition presented the central themes and changes in the content of Mäkilä’s oeuvre from the 1970s to the latest works. During his versatile career, Mäkilä has dealt with social issues, popular culture, the history of painting and questions concerning human existence.
In the early 1970s, Mäkilä painted cubist still lifes and proletarian subjects in the spirit of socialist realism. At the turn of the 1980s, he turned to painting collages, in which he combined images culled from newspapers with elements of popular culture. At that time he also produced a series of portraits of punks. Mäkilä is one of the first Finnish representatives of postmodernism, In the mid-1980s he painted a series called The Never-Ending Story that was based on works by Rubens. It comprised large-scale paintings of scenes from classical Greek and Roman mythology.
Many regarded Mäkilä’s painting series (1993) of the English adult entertainment star Sarah Young as objectifying women although his intention was to present woman in a heroic light. A series of works depicting men and the passage of life and aging followed. Mäkilä’s oewre in the 21st century has been characterised by the subject of manhood. In the Men’s Room serie, men crouching in their Ioneliness inhabit ascetic rooms. The Lost Boys series deals with the emotional heritage that fathers who had gone through the war passed on to their sons. These works depict the balance between discipline and unruliness, the crossing of boundaries and the yearning for freedom.
Jarmo Mäkilä has been chairman of the Finnish Painters’ Union (1982–86) and of the Artists. Association of Finland (1986–91). He has held teaching posts at The School of Art and Design and at The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. Mäkilä has exhibited both in Finland and abroad, He has received prestigious awards. Including the Ducat Prize of the Artists’ Association of Finland (1973) and the Pro Finlandia medal (2002). Mäkilä was nominated for the Carnegie Art Award in 2012.