Atilla’s Mirror Shop is a new project currently in development at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, where I am artist-in-residence from April 2 to June 28, 2018.
Atilla's Mirror Shop uses sound, installation and relational processes in a project dealing with memories of my late uncle’s mirror shop in Izmir, Turkey.
Atilla’s Mirror Shop is a collaboration with my partner Erica Mendritzki, and thus a family business.
Atilla’s Mirror Shop is a practice-led research project and an immersive environment, created many years after my uncle’s death and the closure of his store. The project conflates my uncle’s mirror shop with my own studio space, and includes ambient sound recorded in various locations in Izmir, including in the vicinity of the original store.
Atilla’s Mirror Shop uses geographic dislocation as a way to reflect my own biography, but also as a matter of necessity: the political situation in my parents’ home country has deteriorated considerably since my childhood, and Turkey is now a de facto dictatorship. Although I would like to visit, and to understand how artists make work under such conditions, I can’t—I refused military service on conscientious grounds in 2000, with the result that entering Turkey puts me at risk of incarceration. Like immigrants the world over, I am instead creating an ad hoc, self-made, displaced version of my ancestral culture, reflecting my frustrations, memories, and political sensibilities.
Carrés et Paysans est un projet de peinture inspiré par les déplacements picturaux de Kazimir Malevich et son retour aux peintures figuratives stylisées de paysans au cours des dernières années de sa vie. Cette exposition rassemble deux ensembles d’œuvres distincts, mais liés entre eux, soit une séquence d’images de plaques métalliques carrées, rouillées et en voie de désintégration, et un groupe de peintures et de dessins qui, ensemble, constituent une lecture attentive de la peinture de Malevich intitulée Tête de paysan (1928-1930). Cette œuvre charmante, mais maladroite, peinte dix-sept ans après Carré noir, est devenue mon guide personnel pour surmonter l’ennui, le nihilisme et la hantise de la toile blanche dans l’atelier.
L'exposition est en monte à La Maison des artistes visuels francophones du 1 mai au 14 avril 2018.
Peasants and Squares is a painting project inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s drastic pictorial shifts and his return to figurative, stylized paintings of peasants in the last years of his life. The exhibition brings together two distinct, but connected bodies of work: a sequence of images of rusty, disintegrating square metal plates, and a group of paintings and drawings that collectively constitute a close reading of Malevich’s painting Head of a Peasant (1928-30). This charming but awkward piece, painted seventeen years after the Black Square, has become my personal guide for how to overcome boredom, nihilism, and artist’s block in the studio.
The exhibition is on view at La Maison des artistes visuels francophones from May 1 to April 14, 2018.
This series of works deals with the medium of stone lithography as subject matter and motif. Found in only one small and near-exhausted quarry in Germany, these stones, once commonly used in industrial print shops, have now become rare and difficult to procure: each new motif demands that the stone is ground, polished, and partially pulverized; each new image thus brings the stone closer to its breaking point. There is a poignancy in this imminent obsolescence. I work primarily in painting, a medium which is frequently declared dead or dying, but which in fact has no substantial material threat to its continuation. Painting is the business of illusions and make-believe: in the studio, I can build up my stones over and over again on pieces of canvas, rather than carving them out of a Bavarian quarry, and the supply in my studio can be replenished whenever I choose. Like the sausages in my Market series, my stones both point to the things they depict and assert their own physicality through thickly built up surfaces. As a body of work, this series is a reflection on visibility and erasure, acts of dedication and disappearance, the patina of steady use, and the possibility of obsolescence.
Each panel in this series depicts a rusty square etching plate in various stages of disintegration against a black background. The series functions as a sequence, starting with paintings showing all or most of the square still intact, followed by images of increasingly fragmented squares, gradually being eaten away by rust. These are images of utilitarian objects with no pretense of beauty or of perfection; like the lithograph stones, these plates are tools for creating images, not fanciful images of display. As in my lithograph series, I am attracted to turning a particular process of image making into the subject of a series of paintings. I imagine this body of work as a nod and homage to once radically new ideas like Malevich’s black square and Minimalist works of the 60’s and 70’s, while also asserting that all such newness and radicalism is temporal.
In my Market series, the motif of a simple cut sausage underwent a variety of transformations, moving in and out of recognisability: I hacked and reassembled it into its component parts; I sliced it into ovals; splattered it on a white background; stacked it in rectangular layers; and cut it into stripes. I used thin and thick paint, tried to be both ironic and sincere, and explored abstraction while also depicting objects. By confining expressionist brushwork to clearly delineated areas of my canvases (the “meat”), these works aim to both celebrate and subvert expressive gesture in paint. In Market, the sausage is a deadpan allegory through which to explore aesthetic and conceptual hungers, masculine posturing, and the history of art-as-commodity.
Etc. is a section for orphan paintings and dead ends.