Art history and pop culture are constant presences in Markus Heikkerö’s art
When Heikkerö began his artistic career in the 1960s in the underground movement, he bewildered audiences with his openly sexual, surrealist works. In his later paintings the focus has shifted to light and colour and broad, visionary worlds.
Different decades can be clearly distinguished in Heikkerö’s oeuvre. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, his style betrays an interest in surrealism, sci-fi films and the redefinition of inner and outer reality. Vibrant and colourful fantasies inspired by popular culture now appear for the first time in his work.
Heikkerö’s spray paintings from the 1980s feature such figures as Socrates wearing shades and postmodern portraits of Finnish pop culture celebrities. Heikkerö’s stay in the United States is reflected in his work from the 1980s as a shift in the use of light and his palette. In the new paintings, micro- and macrocosmic motifs intertwine in spiralling patterns.
The size of Heikkerö’s paintings begins to grow from the early 2000s. Youthful psychedelics are replaced by the full-blooded artist’s baroque extravaganzas of spatial illusion and sophisticated tonalities. The paintings contain numerous references to the history of painting and to Heikkerö’s sketches of cathedrals and urban architecture in Central and South Europe.
Markus Heikkerö (b. 1952, Helsinki) is a Helsinki-based visual artist and musician (in such bands as Sperm and Sleepy Sleepers). The exhibition is based on a large donation made by the artist in 2013, when more than a hundred works by Heikkerö were added to Kiasma Collections.
The title of the show, Life’s a Bitch, Baby… is from an early print by Heikkerö and that reflects the enduring themes in Heikkerö’s art: love and death, pleasure and the cycles of life.