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"Essence," paper collage,
10 1/4 x 8", 1999.

"Cradle," paper collage,
7 /12 x 10 1/2", 1999.

"Ennustus," paper collage,
6 x 11 1/2", 1999.

"The Weight," paper collage,
9 3/4 x 11", 1999.


by Marge Bulmer

(Couturier Gallery, West Hollywood) Biomorphic abstract images twist, turn, float, connect, separate, and crowd on flat picture planes of layered surfaces in Maritta Tapanainen’s current collages. Circles, lines, crescents, squares and other geometries combine with a myriad of images that indicate a plenitude of energetic, evolving vitality, a continuum of life. Bits and pieces pasted carefully on textured surfaces suggest drawings of marine life or organisms viewed on a slide through a microscope, each shape breathing life into the next. Patterns of new mutations, strange species of vegetable or animal life grow out of Tapanainen’s fertile imagination.

With a scrupulous regard for craftsmanship combined with apparently irrelevant subject matter that comes together out of a chaotic world of shapes and forms. Some are recognizable, most fanciful. Tapanainen communicates an optimistic world view. Born in Finland, raised in Can ada, and currently residing in Los Angeles, she has traveled extensively. And in her travels she has amassed a collection of obsolete volumes of medical textbooks of anatomy, agricultural yearbooks, water safety texts, industrial manuals, dendrology textbooks, to name a few, which she cycles into her collages. With a special wheat paste she builds layers of archival paper, always in muted shades of umber, to form a textured surface on which she attaches the delicate forms. The appearance is cool and disciplined, yet each piece has a kinetic vitality. Scattered over the surface that catches the light, static forms, inanimate objects, become fantastic shapes that seem to feed on one another to form new strains. The result is a fantasy of evolving life in a magical world, a fascinating conglomeration of meticulous details that are both precisely arranged and chaotically changing.

Although each piece appears to be tightly composed, Tapanainen works intuitively without a definite plan. Each piece comes together improvisationally. What is conveyed is a trust in both her materials and intuition. The growth and resolution of her images echo a confidence that an order will eventually emerge out of the vague origin inherent to each work. Imagination that is allowed a free rein here is capable of seducing the viewer to participate in this fantasy of emerging life.