Teemu Mäenpää is a cultivated expressionist whose style of painting skilfully varies from one piece to the next. He does not repeat himself, but is able to change his expression while still maintaining his idiom, exuding confidence and virtuosity.
This new exhibition is mainly comprised of large paintings on canvas. This medium does full justice to Mäenpää’s intensity. He has excellent control over the large size, expertly juxtaposing completely different styles of painting, either inside a single piece or by creating a series of paintings. While the viewer might for a moment think of Mäenpää as an heir to Romanticism, in another moment they are confronted with expressive lines and contrasting colour juxtapositions.
These paintings have a sense of space. They breathe and are airy in composition. The exhibition is an elegant whole, even if the paintings are visibly edgy and their content might escape interpretations. Historical art references crisscross between centuries and every stroke of the brush is in its rightful place, even if the overall impression is one of spontaneity.
One essential key for interpreting Mäenpää’s art is his knack for transporting viewers away from their comfort zone, deeper inside the artworks. He drops hints, at times bold ones, for the viewer to pause and really look at his paintings. Humour softens his rigorous expression, but there is no cathartic laughter. The artworks have been created seriously and they should also be viewed seriously.
Teemu Mäenpää graduated Master of Fine Arts from the Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2007. He has presented his work in dozens of solo and group exhibitions, also internationally. The collection donated by Seppo Fränti to the Kiasma Museum includes several of his artworks. Mäenpää is also known for his numerous large murals and installations. Mäenpää lives and works in Tampere.