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The surrounding reality and nature form the basis of Rafael Wardi's art. However, he does not make a detailed copy of it but composes his pictures using the views, objects, colours and light around him. Wardi is a Helsinki artist through and through. He has lived on the same spot in the Lauttasaari island all his life: first in a wooden villa by the Ruukinlahti bay, and since 1953 in a block of flats built on the same place where the villa used to be. Over the years, he has faithfully depicted the immediate surroundings of his home and the various views from his studios around Helsinki: Katajanokka, Harjutori Square, the Cable Factory and the Harakka Island.

Before his career as an artist, Wardi worked in the docks, and he has used this theme in many of his works. In the 1950s, Wardi made a study visit to Rome, where he lived in the Villa Lante, on the Gianicolo hill. This period gave birth to a series of city views painted with light colours.