Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Gothic Art in Spotlight: The everyday cruelty in Jarmo Mäkilä's art

Some time ago I went to see the art exhibitions at HAM, Helsinki Art Museum. There were a couple of big exhibitions and a couple of small exhibitions in their facilities. The exhibition that made my little goth heart shiver the most was the exhibition From Heino With Love. Heino is the surname of a family that began to collect contemporary art. Their love for art gave birth to the Heino Art Foundation. This exhibition in HAM is the first time the public can see a glimpse of their extensive collection. The exhibition is on until 28th of August 2016.

Bleak and cruel childhood

The exhibition From Heino With Love featured many interesting contemporary artists but what really caught my eye on my visit to the museum were the works of Jarmo Mäkilä. His works often show the mundane cruelty of our everyday life. Mäkilä has made sculptures, paintings and installations. Many of his work have a sort of a horror film atmosphere, but some are terrible in a more documentary sort of way.

The piece I want to show you is named First Day at School (2007–2008). It is an installation of a miniature model of a school building. On the other side there is either a trail of toys leading to the school, or quite possibly escaping from there.
On the other side the building there are visible marks of violence. The windows are smashed and there are signs of a fire or an explosion.
For me this is a bleak description of a child's feelings when he/she is forced to go to a scary new facility for the very first time. Very big schools with not enough staff and too many bullies can seem like a hostile place to be.

What thoughts spring into your minds?

Art around the city

What I really like about HAM is that they also organize exhibitions outside the museum. At the moment one of the old boulevards for pedestrians in the center of Helsinki is the showplace for an installation by one of the best known contemporary artists: Japanese Yayoi Kusama.
Kusama has wrapped the trees into polka dots. The whole street looks like this. A bit like Wonderland, isn't it?

HAM also has an exhibition room or a window in the nearest metro station (simply named as HAM metro). It is a sort of a glass cage for the art on the platform so people waiting for the next metro can look at some art while they are on the platform.
At the moment HAM features large paintings by a Swedish graffiti artist Kaos.

I hope you enjoyed this post!


  1. You visit so many pretty exhibitions, I wish I had someone to see art with! And seeing art while waiting for metro is such a grand idea, no more boring waits!

    1. I quite often go with a friend or a family member but almost as often I visit art museums by myself. But that is doe to the fact that when I traveled alone in the USA I of course went to the museums alone too. :D

  2. Amazing! Love the art and street art. I've seen some bleak soft toy based art before, my boyfriend and I felt sorry for a toy that was being dragged around as part of a kinetic sculpture and wanted to rescue it but of course we couldn't. I love street art like wrapped trees!

    1. It is peculiar how we humans can have stronger reactions to soft toys instead of a fellow human, isn't it! :) There's something in their innocence and cuteness, I guess.

  3. Jag tycker mycket om att läsa dina analyser om konst, och få en liten lagom dos kultur genom din blogg :)
    Jag själv tittar mer på vackra förskönande ting nuförtiden, men jag gillar att du påminner mig!

    1. Tack! Det är roligt att veta att du gillar mina bloggtexter. :)

  4. The plushie thing is indeed scary but definitely is what a lot of kids feel on their first day of school :-O