The Quest Exhibition
The Gallery’s first exhibition, “The Quest”, features digital works produced in different techniques by eight different artists. The first exhibition is curated by İpek Yeğinsü and included works by Alexandre Dujardin, Asena Hayal, Balca Arda, Gökhan Yıldız, Murat Cengiz, Sair Sinan Kestelli, Sonia Klajnberg and Yiğit Hepsev, ranging from digital print and video sculpture to sound art.
March 20- May 3, 2014
The curator of the exhibition İpek Yeğinsü examines the themes and motifs of the artists' work and the context in which they were made:
In literature and mythology, “The Quest” refers to an adventurous journey, undertaken for an objective both difficult and vital to reach, of the sort we encounter in examples such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey, King Arthur, the Wizard of Oz and 2001: a Space Odyssey. The hero is usually unable to reach the original objective; however, this dangerous and burdensome journey allows him to acquire deep wisdom, pertaining to the self and to life in general. He confronts his fears and vulnerabilities and matures by being put to the test. The adventure becomes symbolic within the storyline and the quest turns into the metaphor of the hero’s, thus the reader’s inner adventure.
The artist’s adventure is no different from that of a mythological hero. Both in terms of the concepts of interest and technical experimentation, every artist is in a never ending, exciting and painful quest. Every artwork featured in the exhibition is a manifestation of both the artist’s creative quests and of the individual, inner journey he or she goes through as his or her own epic’s hero/ine.The quest is also deeply related to the concepts of sense and perception. The senses guide each and every individual in the quest for satisfying first the basic, then the more sophisticated needs, starting from the very moment he or she comes into this world. As the perceptive and cultural vocabulary expand, the sounds, textures, forms and colours that help him or her explore and understand the outside world become interconnected through various mental connotations and intensify to such a point that they often take each other’s place. Although this phenomenon, defined as “synesthesia”, is amongst every brain’s normal functions and enhances our memory’s capacity, it immoderately affects some individuals’ levels of consciousness and such examples are considered an illness. On the other hand, especially in the musical realm, it constitutes the basis of many works of genius, as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Particularly the multidisciplinary approach of today’s artists is increasingly inviting for the viewer to explore the dangerous boundaries of the synesthetical experience. Wishing the exhibition opens the door to a new “quest” for each and every viewer. İpek Yeğinsü
Alexandre Dujardin's 2012 series composed of five drawings - Let Me Tell You a Story, Don’t Be Sad Little Girl, Reflection, Toad and Water Lilly, Wings for Sonia- is related to the short story "The Adventures of Sonia Ploum". The story that comes into the artist's mind after some drawings created unpurposefully, allows the series to eventually reach completion. Dujardin then asks his author friend Coco Delesalle to put the story into words and they would work together on its final version. Our heroine is a little girl named Sonia Ploum, who feels lonely, taking a promenade with a balloon in her hand. Seeing her saddened by the absence of someone to tell her she is loved, first a wolf comes to her rescue and she rides him. Meanwhile Sonia's balloon suddenly escapes and although she is saddened again, all the characters she encounters throughout her adventure respectively console and encourage her; they tell her to persist in her journey and that she will surely find her balloon. The text has no real finale; the story ends in Dujardin's mind with images without words; the little girl flies away with a little boy on a butterfly's back and they spread colours onto the landscapes they fly upon. It is sensed that Sonia's journey to find her balloon takes her to a different place where she matures and her loneliness comes to an end. At this point, Sonia no longer needs the balloon. Thus Dujardin's childlike but melancholic imagery carries the viewer away and perfectly overlaps with the concept of "The Quest", the exhibition's conceptual backbone. İpek Yeğinsü
In her installation entitled The Fight between Eye and Ear, Asena Hayal uses Pieter Bruegel’s (1525-1569) The Fight Between Carnival and Lent in a game based on synesthesia. This lively painting representing the transition between two seasonal diets shows both situations simultaneously in one single frame; the composition is so intense and dynamic, the viewer almost feels like actually hearing the sounds and noises in the painting. The game Hayal has created with the sounds she composed and produced, consists of vocalizing the scenes described in the painting while presenting the image and the sound in each other’s absence, in a way to render the viewer suspicious of a technical problem. The presence of sound in the absence of the imagery forces us to mentally visualize the composition, whereas the silent image is a reminder of the situation generated by the original artwork mobilizing the auditory imagination. The notion of “transformation” that we often encounter in Hayal’s art has the leading role in this work as well, and is a manifestation of the artist’s experimental quest in the realm of new media, especially of the concept of perception and its complexities.
Black Box, Sair Sinan Kestelli's sound installation encoded with spatial data is the result of the artist's long term research based on the relationship between sound, visual and physical perception, and how these will interact. Departing from the notion of synesthesia, one of the exhibition's principal motifs, Kestelli transforms the entrusted exhibition space into a "black box" into an auditory, spatial and physical experience through its geometric attributes, acoustic behavior and the consequent sonic world and diffusion. Providing the artwork's sonic material base from a group of sound-generating instruments he has recently designed, the artist additionally aims at obtaining a motion of energy which diffuses and disperses or intensifies and condensates from time to time, by using the data of the exhibition space and the diffusion possibilities allowed by the sound system both quantitatively and qualitatively.Beating like a heart at the gallery's basement floor, Black Box makes us to perceive the entire exhibition area as a living organism thanks to its vibrations audible from the upper floors. İpek Yeğinsü
Balca Arda’s artistic quests concentrate on areas such as illustration, character design, comics, anime and video. Yet her technique underlines their relation to painting, intensely sensed by the viewer. Her artwork titled Indirect, composed in comics format but in a highly painterly aesthetic approach, focuses on how the social media and the images shared in mass via smartphones transform and render life and, consequently, artistic experience virtual. Just like the other visitors, a couple visiting a Van Gogh exhibition is struggling to photograph the artworks with their smartphones rather than actually examining them. They are so fixated on the impression they are to make in the virtual environment, they necessitate a second frame to be able to see Van Gogh’s paintings. Nowadays, as each and every one of us has become the artist of his or her own image, the meaning of social realm is at the center of Arda’s approach and is closely related to the artist’s deep interest in sociological and political theory, particularly in the question of “identity”. The fact that Arda chooses an impressionist, or more, a “genius-lunatic” figure like Van Gogh to describe the society’s transformation via technological instruments, is not coincidental. İpek Yeğinsü
Cree, Self Portrait and Undefinable by Murat Cengiz belong to his ongoing “Human-Island” series. As if suddenly appearing before our eyes in the middle of nowhere, these fantastic buildings do not exactly conform to any historical period or architectural style, in spite of the historical elements they contain. The artist’s mastery in using the line for building the form in layers adds an additional depth, almost a third dimension to the images. Within the framework of Cengiz’s ongoing artistic research in a diverse range of graphic attitudes, the crucial element that renders these series particular is that each building is possible to read as an individual, and thus the series become a series of portraits. As an individual’s identity is composed of many psychological, cultural, and even historical elements oscillating between his past and future and being redefined countless times at a perceptual level, each one of Cengiz’s works have a multi-layered, multi-dimensional, multi- chronological identity. These works, also establishing a dialogue with issues such as a building’s personality or architectural identity, are presented in three radically different exhibition techniques, to emphasize the experimental approach in Cengiz’s quests; the exhibition method determined for each artwork was chosen in a way to underline the character of that specific work.
Sonia Klajnberg’s Bluegrass series takes its name from and is inspired by a sub-genre of American country music, discovered by the artist during a recent music festival she attended in Berlin. Klajnberg is deeply influenced by the sentimental and narrative aspect of this music, expressing both joy and sadness, played by traditional instruments like the banjo, the violin, and the guitar, and accompanied by human vocals. The American countryside the listener is taken appears to be immune to change: family bands, giant fields, cowboy’s hats and horses. Klajnberg combines in her image all the available clichée of the American traditional culture and presents them in a vintage graphic approach. The artist produced this artwork in Istanbul, deeply inspired by the energy of the street musicians and the accompanying crowds on the Istiklal Avenue. The imagery and the music establish a synesthetic dialog, the one present calling the absent one into play.
In his video work Outside, Yiğit Hepsev focuses on the individual’s sense of belongingness and the quest for identity from an inner point of view. He leaves the viewer face to face with a character visible in six different frames, never able to belong somewhere or to hold on to something. The figure that continues to fall into the void in the presence of sounds whose source we cannot exactly identify, seems to be surrounded by the imagery he or she mentally assigns to the concept of non- belongingness. Each frame has a different dominant motif: the breasts symbolize the quest for sexual identity, spanning from childhood to adulthood; the white nets observed by uncanny eyes in the dark represent the family’s, the social network’s and the society’s prejudices; the rolling avalanche balls stand for the pressure of the anxieties that dominate the world of thoughts and that grow as they are added together; the greenish liquid reminiscent of the deep waters where the first traces of life emerged, symbolizes the tentative answers to cosmic and existential questions; the pink sky represents the never fulfilled dreams and disappointments pertaining to vital objectives; and finally, the falling figure dominating the black background is a reminder of the inner void and helplessness generated by all these layers of belongingness. While we also sense the artist’s nostalgia for his childhood, Hepsev’s attitude is once more strengthened by his naive graphic language and invites the viewer to a sensitive journey into the deepest parts of his ego.
About the Artists
Alexandre Dujardin is a young artist currently living in Berlin.He holds a BFA degree from Ecole des Arts Decoratifs de Strasbourg.An award winning illustrator, he exhibits his paintings in his native France and also in Italy, Germany and Turkey.
Asena Hayal is a conceptual artist,curator,producer and art director who holds a B.A. degree from Yıldız Technical University.
Balca Arda received her PhD (April 2016) in the Department of Political Science at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation “The Sublime in Contemporary Art and Politics: The post-9/11 Art of the Middle Eastern Diaspora in North America” builds on art theory and ethnographic study in dialogue with diaspora and postcolonial literatures and critical approaches to identity politics and representation. During her undergraduate studies at Bogazici University in Turkey, she co-founded “Davetsiz Misafir” (The Uninvited Guest), an intellectual journal of science-fiction, cinema and critique. She pursued her graduate studies at the University of the Arts London in the field Digital Arts. From 2008-2010, Balca was a member of the artist residency of Borusan Art Center. She pursued another MA in the political science department at Bogazici University, and her thesis was on the Transformation of the Oppositional Art in Turkey. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in Visual Communication Design at Kadir Has University.
Gökhan Yıldız is a game designer, 2D/3D Animator, Concept Artist and 3D Architectural Designer who studied at Dumlupınar University.
Murat Cengiz is a visual artist working on illustration, design, painting, sculpting, digital sculpting, 3D printing and game design. After graduating from Dokuz Eylül University Fine Arts faculty, he also got a masters degree in graphic design there. He worked as a creative director and moonlighted at a comics magazine, had an art exhibition in Italy. He works in Switzerland.
Sair Sinan Kestelli was admitted to Istanbul Technical University Centre for Advanced Studies (MIAM) Music Masters Programme specializing in Sound Engineering and Design after studying environmental engineering and sciences on undergraduate and graduate levels.During studies at MIAM, he started to compose electroacoustic music and live electronics pieces. His work "earthworks" was part of the record "Anthology of Turkish Experimental Music: 1961–2014" released by Sub Rosa Records in 2016. He participated in various international events such as Desonanz Festival, Musica Viva Festival, New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference with his work and collaborated with different choreographers as sound designer for contemporary dance / performance projects.He currently pursues PhD studies in Sonic Arts at Istanbul Technical University Advanced Research Studies in Music (MIAM) and works as an instructor at Istanbul Technical University Music Technology Department giving courses such as electroacoustic music composition, sound design, computer music. He designs new digital musical instruments and produce works on different platforms focusing mainly on composition and live performance of electronic music, multi-sensory perception of sound and relationship between sound and space.In addition to solo works, he continues to work with Tuğrul V. Soylu at the electronic music duo, mondual.
Sonia Klajnberg is a graphic designer and illustrator who lives in Berlin. She holds a National Diploma of Fine Arts from Ecole Européene de l'Image Angouleme and exhibits her work in her native France ,Germany and Turkey. She has participated to Contemporary Istanbul 2014 with her Revolution of Robots Series.
After studying Interactive Media Design, Yiğit Hepsev started to work in animation industry as a motion graphics artist. He has also participated to group exhibitons at Pera museum and elsewhere. He then turned his direction to film directing, Yük, The Edge, My Heart is Blue for You are among his notable short films. Currently he is writing and directing short films, music videos and commercials. He holds a bachelor degree from Yıldız Teknik University and a masters degree from Bilgi University Film & TV Department.