The Artsy Vanguard 2019: Melike Kara

Artsy Editorial
Sep 16, 2019 6:21PM

Melike Kara by Diana Pfammatter. Courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin.

Melike Kara, secret whispers, 2018. Photo by Alessandro Wang. Courtesy of the artist and Peres Projects, Berlin.


Melike Kara’s graphic, stylized painted figures—part–futuristic frontiers-people, part–tribal civilization—have earned her a steady progression of interest from curators, dealers, and collectors alike over the past few years. In 2018, the Kurdish-German artist received her first solo show at an institution, the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. This year, she’s had solo shows at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and London gallery Arcadia Missa. This September she made her solo debut in New York, at Salon 94, firmly establishing her presence across the international art world. The artist also shows with Berlin’s Peres Projects.

Kara comes from a shamanic family line in Turkey. Much of her work is, in one way or another, channeling this heritage, and is based in an understanding that “knowledge is ultimately produced through rituals and oral histories,” said Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, director of Witte de With.

The artist engages in her own forms of myth-making, via oil-stick murals and paintings of elastic figures that are surrounded by (and nearly inseparable from) illumination-like patterns in a minimal palette of cool blues and pastels. Sometimes, she combines them with installations of hanging façades with ornamental borders redolent of Islamic doorways. But it’s not just imaginary human subjects and architectures that populate Kara’s oeuvre; she has a penchant for representing animals, too—in the form of carved wooden sculptures of dogs, or armadillos decorated with ornamentation and stacked atop one another in idiosyncratic formation.

Artsy Editorial