An exhibition of paintings by the colour expressionist Mauno Markkula was opened to the public at the Helsinki City Art Museum's galleries in Meilahti on May 12, 2000. The exhibition was the most extensive display of his works to date with over 160 paintings in characteristic rich colours. Most of the works were on loan from private collections and many were on public display for the first time.
Mauno Markkula (1905—1959) is one of the most eccentric Finnish artists of all time. He lived his life in a world defined by his wonderful visions, which he recaptured in his paintings in explosive and bright colours. Markkula's extremely expressive work typically depicts fantastic landscapes, shores torn by storms of colour, moonlit palm trees and fantastical mountains and city scenes. People rarely appear in his paintings; as a painter, he reverses the order of Creation, preferring the primeval waters, skies and the sun over humans.
Markkula's dark, earthen colours are alien to Finnish Expressionism. The ecstatic surge of red, yellow and green earned him the epithet 'mystic of colour'.
As a person, Markkula was shrouded in mystery. He was an introverted hermit, ascetic and an absolutist who led an extremely healthy, albeit strange, life. He was deeply interested in religion and mysticism. His eccentricity made people curious; he became a legend during his lifetime and was the rewarding topic of many a story and anecdote.
Mauno Markkula was one of art collector Leonard Bäcksbacka's favourite artists. Bäcksbacka was Markkula's agent, organized many exhibitions of his art at his Taidesalonki (Art Salon) gallery and even helped him to manage with everyday life.
The exhibition is part of the Helsinki City Art Museum's series on artists whose works are included in the Leonard Bäcksbacka collection, the foundation of the Museum's collections. Earlier exhibitions have featured Sam Vanni and Tyko Sallinen, among others.