Galeri MCRD presents a cross-generational family exhibition, paintings by three generations from the same family coming together: United by their sense of awe in the grandeur of nature, grand mother Saadet Cengiz's spirited insects from 1957 meet her daughter Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay's spirited flowers and her grandson Alp Cagatay's angel of death, otherworldly creatures populating their active imagination.
February 2-27, 2015
The gallery co-founder Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay examines the themes and motifs of this exhibition and the context in which the works have been made, including her own:
As the post-narrative era offers an immense menu of artistic choices, certainly there is room for painting in the classical sense; and all three artists celebrate the beauty of nature in its very spectacularity. The landscapes characterized by luminescence of color reflect the artists’ sense of awe in the grandeur of nature, although they use different styles. In this cross-generational exhibition, Saadet Cengiz’s enigmatic gouache painting is influenced by children’s tales such as Alice in Wonderland and old fairy tales, as well as the Surrealist painters including Leonora Carrington, -19 years her senior-, depicting their own bestiary like Cengiz. It seems to exist a number of possibilities in this scene, the viewers are invited to imagine their own story. Saadet Cengiz’s spirited insects dressed as a bride and groom leaving their fairy tale home in the rocks are otherworldly creatures populating her active imagination; living in an imaginary world where reality is upturned. Imagination is as limitless as the horizon. In this, they meet her young grandson Alp Cagatay's vividly colored coastal scenes, especially the one depicting the angel of death in the act of taking a mortal to the “other side”; or her daughter Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay’s spirited flowers interacting with birds, depicting the ambiguity involved. It is clear that the artists’ strong desire to see things beyond the immediately perceptible, or things beyond the rational or comprehensible unites them, although there are long years separating them.
Poised between the strange and the familiar, the works that make up this exhibition are rooted in the vibrant landscapes of their imagination, yet shaped by dreamlike associations that interconnect the works. Almost-transparent washes of paint build gradients of color and form on these carefully constructed surfaces. The artists' work gestures towards the incalculable process of painting, which is beginning with, ‘a very intuitive dance in the dark of brushes and colors'.These works invite us to journey across terrain in which the utopian leads the way.
About the Artists
Saadet Cengiz studied painting in Ankara at the beginning of 1950s with the idealist professors of the young republic, at the school which became Gazi University now. She became familiar with Surrealism from the art books her brother brought from Germany, but she received little encouragement from her family to forge an artistic career. She became an art teacher and painted for pleasure and inspired her children and students to join the art world. Populated by otherworldly creatures, Cengiz's work imagines kaledioscopic utopias inspired by Disney's wonderful world where humans and nature co-exist in harmony. To these apparently idealised scenes, Cengiz brings her humor and love of beauty. Captivated by the seemingly porous borders between the marvelous and the real, she painted quietly luminous paintings she kept to herself.
Yasemin Cengiz Çağatay started to get involved with the world of paints and paintings as a small child as the daughter of her art teacher mother; and received her foundations from her and her large art history books collection. A major establishment in Turkish art history following a blend of Turkish and French curricula, Lycée de Galatasaray she attended from 11 to 19 years old provided a favorable environment for arts education. After winning the 1st prize in Turkish Airlines’ national painting competition, she has been invited to the State Academy of Fine Arts, but she attended Bosphorus University Business School. After working in corporate management for a decade, she started to pursue her vocation in 2007. She self-studied painting at the galleries, art museums, art bookstores in Paris, London and NYC, focusing also in psychology. She attended art auctions, and the education programs of Sotheby’s Institute of Art London and New York and IESA Paris. She had her first exhibitions at Galeri MCRD she co-founded starting from the gallery’s foundation in 2012, and also had exhibited at All Arts Istanbul Fair in 2013 and Contemporary Istanbul in 2014.
Alp Çağatay's practice can be best described as engaging in his own unique form of myth-making, one in which the interweaving of fact with fiction opens up possibilities for an imagined new world, markedly different from those that appear in classical history. Currently, he works on a cyberpunk comedy set in the year 20XX he co-created with a grotesque and sarcastic humor, parodying the ‘high-tech, low-life’ sense of the genre. It stresses the current trends putting people at the mercy of authoritarian governments and intrusive companies, making them further dependent on pricy tech and more isolated. Cagatay creates the panoramic mise-en-scènes on display entirely with his mind’s eye, pouring out his mind’s contents on screen. A recent graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts' Film &TV department (Class of 2020), he aims to examine complex intersections of narrative, fact and fiction through digital painting, photography, animation, film and installation.In his works Alp Cagatay proposes worlds within worlds.Painterly techniques are employed alongside the artist's construction of images comprised of doodling and transformations of organic forms, densely textured and sculptural.