Atilla’s Mirror Shop was first developed at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, where I was artist-in-residence from April 2 to June 28, 2018. The project has since been shown in Athens, Kefalonia, and Crete, and will be exhibited in Canada in 2020.
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, my parents and my extended family in Turkey, and thus a family business.
Atilla’s Mirror Shop is an ongoing project and an immersive environment, created many years after my uncle’s death and the closure of his store.
Atilla’s Mirror Shop includes over 10 hours of ambient sound recorded in various locations in Izmir, including in the vicinity of the original store.
Atilla’s Mirror Shop is an anti-monument—it is a temporal, transient recreation based on incomplete and hazy memories of my late uncle’s shop in Izmir in the mid-1980’s.
This project is supported by a Major Arts Grant from the Manitoba Arts Council and an Explore and Create: Concept to Realization grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
All photos courtesy of Erica Mendritzki.
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 was on view at La Maison des artistes visuels francophones from May 1 to April 14, 2018.
Peasants and Squares is an ongoing body of work that is supported through an Individual Artist Grant from the Winnipeg Arts Council and a Research/Creation grant from the Manitoba Arts Council.
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.
The Stones series is part of a larger body of work titled Certain Objects, which was supported by a Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
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.
The Plates series is part of a larger body of work titled Certain Objects, which was supported by a Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
These are some installation views from my residency at The Lakkos Project in Heraklion, Crete, which I participated in during the summer of 2019 with my partner Erica Mendritzki. The works are part of my Mirror Shop project, which I began in 2018 during an artist residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, New York. The installation at The Lakkos Project included photographs from the original set up at ISCP, an audio loop with ambient city sound from the original mirror shop’s Kapilar neighbourhood in Izmir, as well as objects and furniture already present in the space.
In the early 20th century, the Lakkos neighbourhood was the centre of Heraklion’s underworld and counterculture—a place inhabited by artists, musicians, bohemians, hustlers, prostitutes, and dealers. In the wake of the Greece-Turkey Population Exchange in 1923, the neighbourhood received an influx of refugees and new arrivals from Asia Minor, further adding to its heterogeneous character and influencing its local music, food and dialect.
Today, there is little left of the bustle that must have once filled the narrow streets of Lakkos. The neighbourhood has a high vacancy rate, with many abandoned homes, derelict buildings and garbage-strewn streets. The artist residency we participated in is housed in two historic Turkish buildings, which are more or less preserved in their original state. Putting up work in this space was technically challenging—we had to work with walls that crumbled under the impact of hammer and nails, sweep up dust that accumulated almost instantly, and work under poor light conditions.
It was, however, a satisfying proposition to set up shop in a neighbourhood that had its heydey during a time when Greek and Turkish populations were torn apart by political force. My late grandfather, who opened a mirror shop in Izmir in 1950, was originally from Thessaloniki—like many others, in 1923 he and his family were forced to leave their place of residence and move to a new, unfamiliar, “home.” The images and sounds from Izmir mingled with the ambient noise of Lakkos, conflating two disparate locations shaped by the same forces of history and politics.
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.
The Market series is part of a larger body of work titled Certain Objects and was supported by a Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Etc. is a section for orphan paintings and dead ends.