Markus Konttinen

Born 1957 | Lives and works in Helsinki


"Space and time inspire me; the way that the moment gains depth," Markus Konttinen replies when I ask what makes him paint. Konttinen starts a painting by spending time in front of the blank surface and examining its way of being, by listening to what it suggests to him. He does not make sketches, but advances slowly, one step at a time, without keeping to some pre-written score.


Konttinen's works are not figurative in the traditional sense, but it would be an over-simplification to call them abstract. They are more like movements on a picture surface, a probing of the tensions between colour and picture space in a manner reminiscent of improvised music.


The paintings are simultaneously material, painted surfaces, and open, atmospheric spaces. The markings that Konttinen makes with his brush are situated on them in a way that frequently brings to mind the floating conception of space of Asian art. It is not always evident where those markings are located, on this side of the picture surface or the other.


Konttinen's works offer no explanations. They leave alternative interpretations open, and are thus challenging, sometimes even stubbornly resistant. To get a clear idea of what they are seeing, viewers have to sharpen both their gaze and their mind, to closely observe the marks and gestures left by the artist on the canvas.