Olli Marttila Visual memories of the Littorina sea

October 11th, 2013 – January 12th, 2014

The most appropriate word to describe Olli Marttila’s art would be: Touch. The way in which the artist touches the paper with colour and the way in which the painting touches the viewer.
- Kimmo Sarje, 1998

Olli Marttila’s (born in Jalasjärvi, 1948) artistic production includes surrealist-naïve oil paintings created in the 1970’s, autobiographical watercolours from the 1980’s, a body of work made under the name of Gloria Witonen between 1980 and 1990, and from the 1990’s onward, the distinct pastel paintings which comprise Marttila’s current central practice.

This retrospective, at the Jyväskylä Art Museum, shows the artist’s work for the first time in the museum context. The exhibition strives to present a complete overview of Marttila’s creation including his experimental and progressive work. The exhibition is comprised of over one hundred artworks, most of which are on loan from public and private collections. The exhibition also includes part of the artist’s personal collection; recent work made this year and other pieces that have never been exhibited.

Olli Marttila began his education in architecture, in Oulu, but quite quickly transferred into the department of ceramic arts at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. At that time, classes were held in what is now the Ateneum building. The same building also contained the rooms of the Art Academy, which is how Marttila first became acquainted with the materials and techniques of painting. Marttila’s oil paintings were first shown at the Young Artists’ Exhibition in 1973.

Between the years 1983 and 2004 Olli Marttila worked as a Fine Arts teacher at the Orivesi College of Arts. Through the school’s positive influence, he became a pastel-painter in the early 90’s. The decisive shift to making and using his own pastel colours was inspired when artist Antero Kahila visited the school as a guest teacher. Since then, Marttila has created a unique technique of pastel painting, which draws on his experience as a ceramist. The use of non-toxic, self-made pastel colours gives the images typical earth-tones which are then deepened and enriched with other colours from Finnish ground materials including smoke or clay.

Concurrently with this exhibition, a book of Olli Marttila’s work will be published with essays written by Päivimarjut Raippalinna, Erkki Pirtola and Aleksis Salusjärvi.