Lauri Mäkäräinen

Paltamo (1935–2013)

”I’ve done all this for myself”, eplains Lauri Mäkäräinen (1935-2013) from his swing, in the middle of an Outsider Art installation. The small flat is filled from top to bottom with art: paintings, reliefs and sculptures, with themes of political and entertainment celebrities.

Even the animal themes, cats, birds and bears, resemble portraits. The newest edition to the collection, is a sculpture of a shy Rabbit in the frost, that has its front paws sheltering it from the cold and from possible spectators.

When working for your own pleasure, you tend to give it your all: ”you’re willing to go the extra mile, in order for it to be good”. Mäkäräinen is a diligent whiz, who tends to look at his themes with a sense of humour. Magazines provide models for his work and the storage holds a few already in waiting – you can only wonder, who from the new government gets to be the next subject.

Mäkäräinen is especially interested in resemblance, which is the greatest challenge for him in art-making. You need to be precise in order to work your way into the wood and find your theme. As a mellow man, Mäkäräinen has the time for sculpting; the slowness of the technique does not bother him – you need to consider long enough to produce the best possible outcome. Nevertheless, Mäkäräinen has worked with wood for the best part of half a century.

Mäkäräinen was asked by a teacher, if he would want to come study at the art school in Ateneum, but as a young boy, he was more drawn to the lumber industry with others. ”At that time and age, being an artist wasn’t really that glamorous.”

”At one point, I worked really hard”, the serious man smiles. Gradually the wooden necessities, produced as spare-time handcrafting, transformed into reliefs ans sculptures. Painted with acrylics, portraits started to come about in the 1970’s. Celebrities have been a recurring theme for over 40 years.

Mäkäräinen does not sell his pieces, but has done some custom work, like the portrait relief of president Mauno Koivisto, for the credit union bank, OP-Pohjola.

Text: Pirjo Immonen. Photos: Teijo Määttänen.