Michael Schilkin feat. Lotta Mattila

11 June – 12 September 2021

Michael Schilkin feat. Lotta Mattila presents an expressive collection of ceramic animal figures with their habitats that illustrates the spiritual kinship between two artists from two different eras. The exhibition is curated by contemporary artist Lotta Mattila (b. 1986), whose work focuses on ceramics and animal subjects. The exhibition installation and wall paintings designed by her creates different desert, forest and winter landscapes as well as amusing and poignant meetings between Michael Schilkin’s and Mattila’s own animal sculptures.

“As I’m an artist working with clay myself, I approached Schilkin’s work from a collegial perspective. Someone who knows the medium is able to read the signs of his craft even in a fired piece. Schilkin’s ceramic sculptures speak to me about an artist who enjoys working with clay in his studio, while the animal figures pull my imagination towards stories of a different kind,” describes Mattila the exhibition process.

Michael Schilkin (1900–1962) was a modernist whose images tell stories. Best known for large reliefs made for façades, he also created small, delightful animal sculptures which masterfully capture the creature’s movement and character. In addition to Finland, Schilkin also made a career for himself internationally as ceramic artist and sculptor. Having emigrated to Finland at the age of 21, Russian-born Schilkin studied at the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki and worked for the art department of the Arabia ceramics factory from 1936 until his death. While at Arabia, animals became the main motif of his works and his experiments with different kinds of glazing methods created beautiful surfaces. For most of the 1940s, he worked on large-scale reliefs for both indoor spaces and building facades, which gave another sense of depth to the buildings featuring his work. His narrative reliefs still enrich the streets of Helsinki, for example, on the facades of the Arabia factory and the former main building of the Helsinki School of Economics.

Michael Schilkin feat. Lotta Mattila is based on an original concept by EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Works in the exhibition are generously loaned by commercial counsellor and art collector Kyösti Kakkonen, the Design Museum, and Lotta Mattila. The exhibition is supported in part by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.