top of page

Yücel Kale:'The Alchemist'   

Galeri MCRD is delighted to present  YÜCEL KALE:'THE ALCHEMIST', an  exhibition of seven sculptures by Yücel Kale. The works are the culmination of years of endeavor into 'Alchemy', alchemy denoting change or transmutation of lifeless material into something  precious. His works  filled with paradox and wonder suggest a poetics of sublime.


Sept 20-Nov 20, 2020

About the Artist

The gallery co-founder Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay examines the themes and motifs of Yücel Kale’s solo exhibition and the context in which it was made: 


YÜCEL KALE:'THE ALCHEMIST', an exhibition of seven works by Yücel Kale, takes place exclusively online in these Corona days when confinement reigns supreme. The exhibition features a painted leather and fiberglass leopard gecko, a carved gemstone elephant  sculpture, and five medium  scale portraits  presented at  Kale’s first exhibition at the gallery website. The works are the culmination of years of endeavor into 'Alchemy', alchemy denoting change or transmutation of lifeless material into something  precious. In tandem, materials like stone and glass commonly associated with bulk, mass and inflexibility, transform in the artist’s hands to the delicate and mercurial; acting as vehicles to prompt emotion.The art of sculpture being about giving a soul to the lifeless material, about changing it into a new being; the transmutation of glass or stone into a fantastical creature. Yücel Kale's enigmatic sculptures succeed in achieving this difficult feat: They are filled with paradox and wonder. Fascinated by form, light and color, he has taken time to explore each innate quality fastidiously since his childhood.

Some works like Mesmerized have a melancholy feel, while also tending to the sublime, reflecting the artist's lifelong preoccupation with sublime; and Lucky the leopard gecko is rather jolly; but all substituting the purely functional for phenomenological experience. Ultimately, Kale’s art is about pure emotion and imagination, and suggests a poetics of sublime. Kale makes use of conceptual constructs—including the ancient and the sublime—creating luxurious icons and elaborate works; which, beneath their captivating exteriors, engage the viewer in a metaphysical dialogue with cultural history, while his fantastic creatures teleport the viewer to the world of dreams. Kale's work throughout his career spanning two decades has been informed  by our capacity to imagine.

Kale’s sculptures in this exhibition give shape to a complete imaginative universe akin to those of earlier Romantic visionaries, ripe with references to the ancients and populated by a cast of  figures drawn from myths, legends. They feature a cast of potent female characters – including Mesmerized, Talisman, Calypso and Lyrical- and a portrait of an old man, Wisdom, whose wrinkled face reflects the imprint of wisdom bestowed by life experiences  upon him. For the artist, these portraits serve as a device to convey poetic, philosophical and metaphysical themes, which are foregrounded in these  works.


Yücel Kale has developed a unique and diverse body of work that, highly personal in nature, connects profoundly with  audiences. The artist's imagery is populated by repeated motifs and mutating characters of his own creation. The female form sharing affinities with classicism has been a recurring motif in Kale’s art since his first exhibitions. United by a common aesthetic akin to that of figurative realism; carved in stone, gemstone, glass or chiseled in hammered copper, or cast in fiberglass or different materials, each sculpture in this exhibition carries its own distinct mood and Sui Generis character; but sensual beauty is common to them all. Glass and gemstone works  contain an ethereal quality,  through their opalescent turquoise or celadon colors, and the light refraction properties of the glass. Carved glass absorbs and reflects varied densities of light to produce an experience for the viewer that is both temporal and sensorial. The hammered copper Lyrical's petal-like surfaces reflect light, and when a source of light is placed inside, it transforms into a torch,  creating a moiré pattern on the walls, becoming almost holographic. Kale's works should be a balm for the eyes and the soul amid visual cacophony.But they are also rather austere like Wisdom the old man, excluding the jolly Lucky.  


Like the female form, supernatural animals have long been an important part of Kale’s art. Sharing the artist’s distinctive curvaceous forms, medium-to large-scale sculptures characteristically straddle a line between nature and exuberant artifice. At once simplified and fantastical, these forms are designed to be viewed from multiple angles, encouraging audiences to move around them. Lucky, the leopard gecko, the leather covered fiberglass structure painted in a slightly subdued palette of red, yellow and green; its curvaceous forms adorned with tapering patterns of colorful dots,  displays a visceral physicality with its sheer size. Demonstrating the artist’s ongoing interest in the natural world, it oscillates between a Pop art supernatural creature and a recognizable animal as a leopard gecko; but in the end, it remains enigmatic, like the artist himself.

Yücel Kale is an Istanbul based established artist,  who began his artistic career two decades ago studying sculpture at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts  University, Istanbul (1993-2000).  In 1997 Kale had his first large-scale solo presentation with C.A.M Art Gallery, Istanbul. His work has been exhibited  solo or as part of group exhibitions internationally at fairs -Art New York 2017 , Aqua Art Miami 2017, SOFA Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design, New York (2008), ST-ART Strasbourg Contemporary Art Fair, France (2009), Frankfurt Book Fair, Germany (2008), Asia Pacific Leather Fair Hong Kong (2014), Contemporary Istanbul (2006,2012, 2013)-; at museums, -Museum Der Arbeit in Hamburg, Germany (2009) and Santa Maria della Scala Museum, Siena, Italy (2008); at Portside Gallery in Yokohama, and at Youkobo, Japan (2004). The artist had also many solo exhibitions nationally,  at many established galleries including Galeri Apel, C.A.M. Art Gallery, Galeri Selvin, Imoga Art Space and Siyah Beyaz Art Gallery. His works are held in private collections.

Galeri MCRD 


Mesmerized by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

Yücel Kale, Mesmerized,  2019, glass carving

Lyrical by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

Lyrical, hammered copper 

Mother Earth by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

Mother Earth, hand carved from ruby-zoisite

Talisman by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

Yücel Kale, Talisman, hand carved from glass

Wisdom by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

Yücel Kale, Wisdom, hand carved from stone

Calypso by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

Calypso, hand carved from glass

Lucky by Yücel Kale at Galeri MCRD

 Lucky, 2017, fiberglass covered with leather

bottom of page