An essay on Semih Zeki's works

Cep Gallery
Sep 3, 2018 9:06AM

Personal notes by the artist concerning his works

Today we are confronted by a conflict of representation and counter-representation. There is a freedom created by modernity while at the same time an inanity that is increasing with uncertainty. On the other hand, there is an argument from all this uncertainty and inanity, that of being a fictional reality. Nothing is static anymore. Versatility is the most important fact of our lives and all the values of our lives are increasing by adding one onto another and continuing to copy itself. The process of segmentation becomes endless by the new recreating itself permanently. The concept of value is being realised from time to time. However, this concept will soon disappear due to a growing awareness; it is the same in art.

An individual characterized by herd behaviour does not have an answer for the ones who intervene in their lives or fill their environment with inane forms or break their relationship with nature. Since individuals have lost their ability to be an individual, they have become more like genetically modified organisms in social life. If we discuss this from my perspective on art, at the first sight we may say that deconstruction seems like a perpetual repetition. Nevertheless, one can argue that I am making a criticism of the construction and nonrecurring, fast, variant and renovated system.

The result of each layer blanketing over the previous one, ultimately changing it or reducing its effect by covering it, is similar to the images we see in our daily lives through mass media. The paintings diverge from the point of origin with every colour, image, or line that is added to the surface with the final outcome taking a completely different form. This situation, that I created deliberately, is an obvious proof of the change in human nature that is evolving every day due to the effects of thousands of images being poured through our media outlets. In thus, the deprivation of identity is being questioned.

By examining my production process one can understand, especially from my fictions of metamorphosis of constructions, I tend to relate with what is contemporary instead of what is historical. Architectural structures, which I mess with and modify by bringing them side by side, is a current condition confronted in everyday life. Transience is being put forward within the idea of permanence. The transition of the structure of urban fabric put together with high technology has become shorter. Variability, transience, and chaos become part of our lives as a result. The increase of these indications are unconsciously drawing people into a vortex.

Distorted relationship between today’s human and nature is being questioned in my art. The focus is on the human but does not point them out. One of the vilest circumstances that humans face today is the mass construction of contemporary buildings taking over the natural environment. Every day another concrete column is built over a green area and the natural sunlight is surrounded by shadows. I want to put an emphasis on my paintings giving a feeling of pentür infrastructure that is being contained through experimental features. By doing this every painting is affirmed through its own journey. Generally buildings of concrete blocks (gross masses) are important since they are fictionalised differently and their perpetual changing structure keeps the nature in the background, showing how we evolve in time and what we come across in our everyday lives. My later work is mostly traces of semantics. The systematic aesthetics created by repeatedly dividing the construction varies from one painting to another and is seen in the dynamics of the masses, the transparent forms,  and the lines that intervene with the forms. It is hard to be lost or erased.

It is interesting that at the construction phase, gross mass on the ground dissepeares from time to time and ultimately shows the strength of nature and how the eclectic can be demolished by nature. Although nature is sometimes both used as a direct subject or null subject, in my art there is always nature. It is important that these structures show how time is shaped by isolation from chaos, silence, and open space, while at the same time the successive layers makes us examine this course of chaos. The underlying reason I desire to present the forms I create as an imaginary situation is to show how persuasive paintings can be in presenting life as an illusion.

My later work has an emphasis on new constructions. The main reason is to feel the soul of the construction and the fear of showing it differently from its apparent look. For instance, The Dome of Cologne, which you will see in a few of my paintings, is the first of this series. In my opinion, the function of art is not just to act as a catalyst for criticism and discussion, or to show representations of what is beautiful or unique but also to create awareness. In the paintings of the A.V.M series I tried to criticize and make technical, systematic references to the chaos in shopping malls and its illusion while showing its aesthetic constructional anatomy.

To explain the exhibition with the main feature of my work, we can say that the exhibition is construction focused. Examining the construction as both semantic and technical with a constant variability by making reference to reproduction and world of copy through the concept of time. The real reason for the usage of constructional anatomy in my art is like opening a cadaver, observing human anatomy by a way of breaking the construction every time and generating a language that is produced constantly. This language is one of the corner stones of my art.

semih zeki
A.V.M | mixed media on canvas | 200x400 cm, 2014
Cep Gallery

There is a dark side in the struggle to see the one, which is in motion, demolished, disintegrated and reconstructed, during its movement. Semih Zeki has been aware of it since he piled up the gross forms in order to show the demolition; he draws and paints by shedding light on blind spots. He is not enthusiastic to stop flowing, and he is not stuck in the imagery. Reorganization of the view in its repetitive forms is as natural as the fact that a train leaves the station, and as transient as such fact. The only sign of continuity is perhaps the hook itself, passing around the canvas, as well as the shadow and even the absence thereof…

The destructive and demolishing effect of the continuous change in the city on memory and meaning is not reflected only as a distorted Gestalt in Semih Zeki's point of view; this is not a structure, but a (counter) system that continually renews the part-whole relations (meronymy). The junk at the exact center of the cloud consisting of the minor works is a precursor of the structures branched and articulated around, as if such structures let know a new demolition. So the city is rebuilt while being demolished as it has been for centuries. However, this time, speed (Marc Augé stated as early as 1992 that “the history speeds.”.) and recklessness have shattered parallelism, linearity and point of bearing. If we see any irregularities, breaks and crystallizations, rather than repetitions, in the buildings, this is probably pointing to any hidden cracks in the buildings reconstructed.

semih zeki
gross layer | lithography | 23/35 | 60x50cm, 2014
Cep Gallery

Aside from this powerful narrative, the heart of Demolition will be beating in the images of the nature for some of its audiences. Because, in the new era of Semih Zeki, the thing that is added on the gross layers is the parts of the nature, familiar with the trees, meadows and the sky, but with their foci. You should pay attention to the marks of the dashed lines while watching the paintings. In this mobility, the focus marks what is to be shattered. Moreover, it is as if a melancholy secret is drawn on all the scenes seen. In view of the big building fiction works, performed with bitumen and concrete, there is a nature depicted with the colors of brown, grey and faded shades of yellow, not an antagonism loaded with greenish and bluish tints.

However, perhaps the key element, bringing the constructiveness in Zeki's point of view, is the fact that all of these have been built on the remains of 2016. The artist is not content with collecting the remains, but he reorganizes, shapes, and uses such remains as base for new images. Lead is added to concrete and bitumen, and a world is constructed through the remainders. Even demolition does not destroy the existing one; Cracks in nature are the basis of rebuilding yourself, as in the humans.

On the other hand, it is possible to see the desire in the demolition. Semih Zeki, in his own words, wishes himself to demolish as well "until the clear painting remains”. He is not content with such wish. Metaphor becomes true when it “frustrates” the small works, and transforms it into big works, or when it puts a single figure in the middle of an entire structure, in which the sky is also materialized. In such world, which Semih Zeki has constructed following his desire, it is ordinary to be torn apart while passing from the hooks to the wind turbines, and to be purified and cleaned through being fed by the dirt of the city.

Ungers, in his book “Kent Metaforlari” (Morphologie), states that “Without a more inclusive view, reality seems to us as a stack of independent phenomena and meaningless facts; in other words, it is entirely chaotic.” Also, while watching the imaginary atmosphere of Semih Zeki, it may be pertinent to seek integrity as regards aesthetics, even if not as regards knowledge and wisdom. The major sounds of the building forms and minor tunes of the remains or the depictions of nature compose a symphonic carcass. It is of course possible to watch and internalize one independently from the other; however, it is only possible to refer the actual and original sound and the dialectic between the demolition and reconstruction, when all the signs are read together.

After all, there is obviously hope. The colors of dark blue and pink extend through the gray background, through the cement and bitumen and through thin cracks as well as through all of the signs for low-pitched nature depictions and demolition. Rising and ascending constructions present us reflexive images in chaotic lines, not cell by cell. Even though the city is filled with no-places that leave no room for memory, the painter wishes us to sense and feel that there is another power fed by the speed of demolition. Initially, he wishes us to remember that there is darkness and chaos, above all, and that the sound arises from them.

Cep Gallery