Ernst Mether-Borgström

Modernism slowly paved its way into Finnish visual arts, and Ernst Mether-Borgström (1917-1996) hesitated for long before opting for a fully abstract imagery. Although cautious and deliberate by nature, he was openly curious about new influences and intently followed that which was taking place in the international field.

At first, Mether-Borgström was skeptical of the theoretical nature dictated by abstract periods. He did not consider himself a theoretician, and instead wanted to base what he did on intuition and emotional expression. He was afraid that excessive method would break the connection with intuition. Mether-Borgström is, however, considered a natural pioneer of Finnish abstract art, with his first abstract works dating back to the 1940s.

Mether-Borgström actively participated in exhibitions, both in his home country and abroad, during six different decades. He was first known primarily as a graphic artist, although he painted during his entire career. He never abandoned graphics, which played an important part in many turning points of his career, supporting him in developing his expression.

Color played an increasingly important role in Mether-Borgström’s production, making up the single most important component of his works in the last decades.

In the 1970s and 80s, he established his own style, when he reached a clarity of expression and started the use of strong, fresh colors. Gouaches, which Mether-Borgström painted at his beloved summer place in Korppiholma, were of particular importance to him. They most clearly conveyed the essence of his art: a spontaneous treatment of color and shape.

“My paintings should not be regarded as a play with color and shape, but as a powerful emotional reaction, an expression of what I am, feel, live” (Ernst Mether-Borgström wrote in his journal in 1976)

[edited from Hanna Mamia-Walther, Curator / EMMA]