Carolus Enckell (1945–2017) is ranked among Finland’s leading visual artists. In a career spanning over seven decades, he produced a rich oeuvre of sophisticated, low-key compositions exploring the connections between color, light, perception, seeing and memory. For decades, Enckell’s principal preoccupation was capturing a specific spirit of a place, whether in the form of a minimalistic, stylized landscape or a state of mind portrayed as an architectural space.
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The legacy of modernism was ever-present in Enckell’s art. Borrowing from its tradition of study on two-dimensionality, he was a descendant of the Impressionists in his study of light, which he fused with various facets of the abstract, ranging from Rothko’s minimalism to neo-expressionism. His oeuvre is rich in allusions to art history, reflecting his deep interest and love of cultural history: his art incorporates various references ranging from Buddhist motifs and North African textiles to the ancient star maps of the Incas.
Enckell studied at the Free Art School (1966–69) and subsequently served as one of the school’s instructors, and later also as its dean (1988–95). The Free Art School was an essential institution through which Enckell propagated his artistic ideas among later generations of Finnish artists. In addition to serving as editor-in-chief of Taide, Finland’s leading art journal, Enckell was an active commentator on contemporary architecture, a writer of many articles on the links between art and language, and an art ambassador who played a significant role in familiarizing Finnish audiences with American contemporary art. He received numerous awards, including the title of Artist of the year of Helsinki Festival in 1990, the Carnegie Art Award in 2001 and the Pro Finlandia medal in 2009.Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Forsblom