Catherine Maria Chapel’s “Finlande intérieure” exhibition in Mänttä: portraits and landscapes sculpted by the Finnish summer light

Three months ago, I visited Catherine Maria Chapel’s studio in Paris shortly before she moved it to the centre of Brussels. I wanted to familiarize myself with her artistic universe before the beginning of her residence at the Serlachius museum in Mänttä (Finland). The duality existing between her abstract watercolour paintings (marked by crescendos of intense tones and raw pigments magnified by multilayered transparencies) and her pictures (ethereal, stretching space and time in a largo, sotto voce movement to reach a climax of silence and eternity) was what struck me most. The rhythmic opposition between the artist’s use of these visual techniques creates harmony and consistency, as if they were each other’s oxygen.

In that context, it comes as no surprise that during her residence at the Serlachius museum throughout June 2017, Catherine Maria Chapel has worked on both photography and painting (producing an astonishing amount of pieces). Her closing exhibition titled “Finlande intérieure”*, meaning “Inner Finland”, is the result of the artist’s first impressions when arriving in Mänttä and being confronted with the “infinite poetry of the landscapes”. “Is every spring in Finland like the rebirth of the world?” “How do people resonate with the eternity and grave intensity imprinted in the landscapes?” these turned into guiding questions.


The photo exhibition shows a series of generous black&white portraits and landscapes: the Finnish summer light seems to sculpt them says Catherine Maria chapel in a recent interview (, 15th June 2017) and it releases people’s bites of “eternity and grave intensity” as if Finnish landscapes blossomed in people.

The midsize watercolour paintings displayed at the residence studio are abstract landscapes covered with skins made of Serla greaseproof kitchen paper (Serla is a brand known nationwide that is produced in the factory just opposite the studio). “I had forgotten to bring my usual paper, and while awaiting for its arrival, I turned to Serla’s to get started”. This paper that is apparently not in production anymore literally drank her watercolour mixtures and gave birth to unexpected patterns that she recognized in the surrounding nature.

Catherine Maria Chapel’s story with Finland is only beginning.  She is a fine connoisseur of Helene Schjerfbeck’s portraits (some reproductions hang on the walls of her atelier) and she is also fascinated by Pekka Halonen’s winter landscapes in such a manner that she plans to return in the winter season next to discover the peculiar illumination coming from ice and snow, the vegetal rebirth under the snow, etc.

*”Finlande intérieure” is displayed on two sites

From 20.6.2017 Catherine Maria Chapel’s photos can be seen at the restaurant of the Serlachius Gösta art museum

From 22.6.2017 her paintings are displayed at the studiotalo, Aleksanterin linnan

to know more about the artist’s body of work

Please note that:

  1. pictures in the post were taken at the artist’s studio in Mänttä and should be considered as works in the making
  2. the municipality of Mänttä organizes a visual arts festival which offers the opportunity to discover a wealth of Finnish contemporary artists; check their programme (Mäntän kuvataideviikot This year’s theme is “Summer”
  3. the current exhibitions at the Serlachius museum offer a Nordic perspective on representing sumemr days and their importance in Nordic life


The artist residence studio in Mänttä (Studiotalo Aleksanterin linnan)

All pictures by Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti @ruxandrabp