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Identification and alienation, backpacks with ugly patterns. Meet painter Matilda Enegren for #100artinHelsinki

As a part of the #100artinhelsinki project Irene Suosalo will interview 6 interesting contemporary artists. The interviews will be published during spring 2018 on our website. Irene met the painter Matilda Enegren at her studio in Helsinki. Matilda’s next exhibition will be held at the POM Gallery in Mariefred, Sweden.

Tell us about your background and how did you become a painter?

M: “I grew up in Tölby, in the countryside nearby Vasa, and spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years painting what I saw in my surroundings: animals, plants, landscapes and family members. Painting has remained my main form of creative expression and still intrigues me with the same power as it did when I was a child. I decided early on that I wanted to become a painter. I studied at Novia University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Nykarleby, Finland) and later at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg (Gothenburg, Sweden), where I earned my Master of Fine Arts degree in 2015.”

Describe your aesthetics in three words.

M: “Silent, centered and controlled.”

Who or what is your inspiration?

M: “I get inspired by sights in everyday life, groups of people in the street, clothing and landscapes. Currently I like to look at backpacks with ugly patterns. The view from my studio window consists of a car retail facility and a fast food restaurant. The people who come and go there are my inspiration as well.”

How has your working developed?

M: “In the past I used photos as the base for my paintings but now I am more interested to paint from real life. I want to react to a person that sits in front of me and the qualities of daylight.”

What do self portraits mean to you?

M: “In my self-portraits I am interested to capture and examine the psychological loop between identification and alienation that occurs when scrutinizing my own reflection in the mirror. The act of painting self-portraits involves thinking about aging and death – I paint faces that disappear with time and thought. Sometimes I think of the self-portraits as layers that I peel off and that continue to live their own life.”

What do you want to say with your work and why?

M: “For me painting is a form of prolonged observing, and by extension, an attempt to understand the observed object. I wish to convey my dedication and appreciation for the motif in the way I paint.”

Do your works comment on any of today’s social and political problems?

M: “My works derive from the time we live in and the existence that we share. I want to make the seen tangible and share sights that I filter through myself by meticulously painting them. I have for instance painted teenagers – those to whom the world is passed on – in subtracted surroundings. I am concerned that society might be failing them and their future. I am worried how the hypermediated present time is affecting our ability to face the overwhelming problems and to cope with the complexity of the world. The society is becoming more competitive and the future is more uncertain for the young than it was for the generation preceding them.”

#100artinhelsinki is a Finnish Art Agency’s project in which photographer Irene Suosalo keeps up with art events, exhibitions and gallery openings happening in Helsinki while also getting to interview few rising artists on their work.

Paintings featured in this article:

1) Blinded, 41 x 33 cm, oil on canvas board, 2017
2) Vigilance, 35 x 27 cm, oil on canvas board, 2016
3) Asema, 70 x 100 cm, watercolor on paper, 2018