Ahmet Doğu İpek’s present present, “A Halo of Blackness Upon Our Heads” at Arter in Istanbul, conveys his fascination with the intersections of pure and man-made supplies. İpek is famed for his site-specific installations: In Soupir (2019), sited inside an Ottoman-era mansion, he performed with the parquet flooring tiles to think about how nature may overtake tradition, creating the uncanny phantasm of a inexperienced mound rising up by the ground. Comparable issues emerge in his “Roots” sequence (2019), wherein he carved the roots of walnut bushes to disclose stones nestled inside them.
At Arter, he presents a number of associated our bodies of labor. For his “Subjected” sequence (2022), he has organized for 2 boulders weighing practically 2,500 and three,300 kilos to be moved from the Anatolian city of Kütahya to the gallery area in Istanbul, the place they sit on monumental white sponge “mattresses.” An encounter between pure and artificial supplies, the set up additionally suggests vastly totally different scales of time, juxtaposing synthetic sponges towards rocks whose formation took millennia. The boulders compress the sponges, which exist in a extra energetic state, altering coloration from white to yellow in the course of the present’s eight-month run. The “Figures” sequence (2021–22)is one other experiment utilizing the identical part (the artist has a group of pure and synthetic stones). İpek has drawn 5 stones in black watercolor: they’re distinctive, as all rocks are, and their markings, resembling creases and wrinkles, make them learn as human faces or palms; the stones’ skin-like textures appear to recommend one thing of their historical past and the forces that acted upon them, questions which have specific resonance on this metropolis. In Istanbul, the place new constructing websites and skyscrapers take over storied neighborhoods, and asphalt and concrete displace the traditional metropolis’s bedrock, pure stones have gotten extra uncommon on a regular basis.
Almost 150 mixed-media work make up İpek’s “From Faraway and All the time” sequence (2020–22); lining a whole gallery wall, this physique of labor depicts rows and rows of blackened suns surrounded, halolike, by a yellow glow. The works evince İpek’s ability in utilizing minimalist, summary language, relying equally on repetition and precision. The opaque black circles differ barely in scale, some blurry or surrounded by varied hues, producing a way of flux. Whereas the darkish circles towards gentle evoke an eclipse, the types may additionally learn as petri dishes, a reminder of the items’ creation throughout a pandemic. Involving linseed oil that subtly yellows, these works additionally recommend residing organisms, and suggest a proper connection to the discoloring foam of the “Subjected” sequence.
Whereas the above works showcase İpek’s items as a superb illustrator and conceptual artist, the 2 movies on view are much less compelling visually and lazier intellectually. The only-channel, 10-minute items Zephyr I and Zephyr II (each 2021) undergo from mannerism. They’re titled after the west wind (ζόφος, zóphos, means darkness), which is called after the Greek god Zephyrus, the harbinger of spring. Set to a meditative soundtrack composed by Turkish artist Ah! Kosmos, the movies provide hallucinatory animations of intermingling black shapes, starting calmly earlier than the types dance round, as if in a twister, later to morph right into a delicate breeze. The motion seems to be like computer-generated imagery however is the product of a easy gesture: İpek has recorded the actions of ink inside a big glass of water. As with the linseed oil sequence, what these shapes stand for—twister, sandstorm, or plenty joined in a revolution—is within the eye of the beholder.
The present’s curator, Selen Ansen, suggests these movies illustrate the tragic and dangerous interactions between our bodies, and enact Aby Warburg’s “pathos formulation”—a set of gestures, repeated all through artwork historical past, that convey motion and emotion. Whereas the Zephyr imagery proves visually fascinating, it’s finally superficial. The emotionally charged visible trope lacks the tight formality and ensuing punch of İpek’s different works right here, rendering them as primarily screensavers. Nonetheless, they exemplify the artist’s fascination with the transformation of techniques, the kinship of chaos and cosmos, and the evolution of types.