Using art to build bridges
TEXT: NDÉLA FAYE | PHOTOS © SOILE YLI-MÄYRY
Soile Yli-Mäyry is a Finnish painter and doctor of social sciences, with over 35 years’ experience in the art world. With over 300 private exhibitions in 30 countries under her belt, the artist keeps going from strength to strength, continuing to take her art to four continents.
With a busy schedule, and solo exhibitions booked all the way up until 2021, Yli-Mäyry shows no signs of slowing down. From Shanghai to Beijing to São Paulo, Yli-Mäyry’s paintings have been displayed in all the major art museums all over the world. “I’ve always taken risks, and have funded every single one of my exhibitions myself – with no grants or sponsorship from the government – and I am incredibly proud of this,” says Yli-Mäyry. In November 2018, her work will be displayed in Singapore, in December in Dubai, and in March 2019, she will open her 16th exhibition in New York, then in Tokyo in April 2019.
With her main tool, the palette knife, Yli-Mäyry uses paint in three ways: by painting a thin, even coat, creating thick lines, and scraping lines onto the painted surface, in order to create a three-dimensional look. In addition to paintings, she has been making glass sculptures for the past ten years, in Venice’s Murano.
The main theme in her work is people’s increasing alienation from nature in the urban, digital world. “Our digital world means the whole planet is interconnected, but people’s individual experiences are being stifled under the weight of the massive information load, resulting in an identity crisis. The more information we have, the lonelier we feel, regardless of our cultural background – and this phenomenon can be witnessed across the world. Having travelled the world with my art, I’ve been able to build bridges between these shared human experiences,” Yli-Mäyry explains.
In 1993, Yli-Mäyry built her own art hall in the small village of Mäyry, where she was born. The art hall is open every summer for three months. She has also bought a castle, Soile Yli-Mäyry’s Art Castle, located in Orimattila, less than an hour’s drive from Helsinki, which hosts a permanent exhibition of her paintings and glass sculptures. The castle is open throughout the year on Sundays, and other visiting times are available on request.
“I feel lucky I am able to travel the world and meet audiences across the world, from different cultures, in different countries. Could an artist ask for any more? I don’t think so,” Yli-Mäyry concludes.