January is the perfect time to huddle up on the sofa, light a reading lamp, talk to your indoor plants and give yourself permission to turn your gaze inward. 

Oona Mäkelä uses illustration to explore personal spaces built by humans. Her warm, vivid colour palette effortlessly transports viewers into the illustrated rooms. The exhibition at Galleria Kuvitus showcases digitally coloured ink drawings and paintings that are characteristic of Mäkelä’s style. 

Mäkelä occupies the middle ground between the abstract and the figurative. She is interested in the details in the interior, but also wants to see below the surface. Home means so much more than just the way the furniture is arranged or the material, economic or aesthetic. Home is the landscape of our soul that says a lot about its occupant. As we shape spaces to suit our preferences, these spaces shape our minds. They shape us. 

Mäkelä’s spaces have the same fascinating weirdness as French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s idea of “a place where at-homeness lives”. Looking for a feeling that is a place that is a feeling. The spaces in the illustrations tell stories and ask questions. Why does the same space appear spacious for one person and barren for another? Why do some of us prefer minimalist environments whereas others enjoy abundance? What makes a room a home? 

For an illustrator, being able to depict space is important, because the world consists of spaces. Living spaces. In-between spaces. Mental spaces. Organised spaces. Disorganised spaces. Chaotic spaces. Calm spaces. Homely spaces. Lived spaces. 

“To live is to pass from one space to another, while doing your very best not to bump yourself,” writes philosopher Georges Perec. 

Mäkelä seeks and finds something more profound in her illustrations than mere aesthetic compositions and design furniture: the atmosphere in the room and the lingering presence of a person who has left the space.

Oona Mäkelä (b. 1991) graduated as Bachelor of Visual Arts and Master of Graphic Design from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. She is represented by Napa Agency. Her clients include Finnish Design Shop, Grafia, Helsingin Sanomat, Kuvittaja magazine, Makia, Nanso, Samuji, Siltala Publishing, S&S Publishing, Stockmann and Vegemessut.

Words:

Veera Pekkinen

Sources:

Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space, translated by Maria Jolas, 1994 (La poétique de l’espace, 1957) 

Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, translated by John Sturrock, 2008 (Espèces d’espaces, 1974)

Upcoming exhibitions

16.8.2024.-
15.9.2024

Tuuli Haapio

20.9.2024.-
20.10.2024

Janne Korsumäki

25.10.2024.-
24.11.2024

Anja Reponen

29.11.2024.-
29.12.2024

Meria Palin