Matti Nikolainen: A self-taught artist

Ali McBeal's flatmate

Ali McBeal's flatmate

Matti Nikolainen’s drawings and paintings combine different techniques and themes, from a classical Michelangelo to an abstract representation of thoughts and emotions.

A self-taught, naturally talented artist with no formal art training, Matti Nikolainen has been drawing for more than 10 years, combining his work as an Art Director in an advertising agency with his art work.

Most of the galleries don’t accept artists without formal art education. After several attempts, he gave up. “You have to go to millions of art schools to be accepted by an art gallery. Trying different drawings, techniques and styles has been my art school.”

From an early age he liked masters like Goya, Velazquez, DaVinci, Hockney, Basquiat and Yves Klein. Although nowadays he is more interested in abstract impressionism, he takes art seriously and likes learning from the classics before attempting more abstract works.

Natural talent that needs to be discovered

Nikolainen admires the way Klein studied the pigments for many years to create a certain blue known as Klein Blue. In abstract art the artist and the viewer’s thoughts merge. It’s a personal interpretation which is different for everybody and raises some thoughts. On abstract art, Nikolainen says:

“It’s difficult to say why people like abstract work, is it the combination of colour, or is it the composition? Maybe I’m a bit conservative on that matter but I think that before you do abstract works you have to do more traditional kinds of art work, at least know how to draw. Go to an art school and if you don’t go at least do something in your house, learn to draw and draw a lot, learn new stuff. An artist has to give from himself.”

Some of Nikolainen’s works have been described as beautiful. He defines beauty as something that makes him feel warm. “I like simple things, simplicity is beauty.”

Nikolainen has a natural talent that needs to be expressed and discovered. It’s a pity that not many art galleries give an opportunity to self-taught artists. Does going to an art school make a better artist? Do they teach you how to draw when you go to an art school or is drawing a natural talent? Petri Käki , who runs the Ant Gallery, trusted the artist for his work without asking if he went to an art school.

Why not discover the art of a self-taught artist for yourself? The exhibition Kind of Gospel: Debut/Retrospective is at the Ant Gallery on Topeliuksenkatu 3, Helsinki, until 26 September.

Susan Fourtane – Helsinki Times
Matti Nikolainen – Image


About Susan Fourtané

As a citizen of the world, Susan began her search for her place in the world back at the beginning of the year 2000. After many travels looking for her place in the world, her soul found that place in Finland in September 2006. She has been living in Helsinki ever since, where she combines fiction and non-fiction writing with Philosophy studies and teaching.
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One Response to Matti Nikolainen: A self-taught artist

  1. Jackie says:

    Wonderful and so colorful. You are truly an artist!. Being self-taught shouldn’t hold us back and it is evident that it’s not holding you down. I am also self-taught. It takes a while a lot of nerve to go out there and express ones’ feelings. I do agree with you. why don’t they allow or have a special art gallery for self-taught artists. my blog:, my site I

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