The twentieth century saw its share of movements seeking to create a more pure art. Manifestos were written and it was not uncommon for artists to be removed from membership of their group for not adhering strictly enough to the movement’s stated intentions, thus new groups were created and the cycle repeated itself until ‘movement’ became a word relegated to academic conversation more than artistic praxis. I regret that participation in a movement has lost much of its appeal, giving way to the more culture-mirroring individualism espoused by most artists working today, but this individualism makes much more obvious the artists who create within their own guidelines and helps us to take more from what those guidelines mean for the work. The Turkish artist Ayça Telgeren has one of the most original and fully-realized artistic practices that I have seen, creating exquisite cut-paper paintings that “attempt to reach a sincere and direct expression, embrace an unpremeditated interaction with life and free flow of thought as her practice.”
That’s right, these works are made up of numerous pieces of hand-cut paper to become huge images to contemplate, marvel at, and connect to. Ms Telgeren taps into the surrealist ideal of spontaneous creation and comes up with “the known undefined heroes of an imaginary atmosphere beyond perception of time, space and form”. In many that I have chosen to present here vaguely human shapes made of gridded lines and hair drift in a space (or spacelessness) alone or together, reaching out or holding one another while bright masses sometimes appear among them. Plant life is suggested but played around with in similar ways, seen in the work Portrait of A Soul (2013) where the most immediately recognizable form – a tree – cannot truly be seen upon a closer look. Instead we see four distinct sections, each with its own forms and movement, as well as some shadows and most likely a couple of questions of our own. These pieces do not exist in the world that we know, but we see something of our world in them; the forms are clearly not people but they are engaged in tenderness and intimacy as people do; the forms in the work are often comprised of fluid, organic-looking parts or by grids, technological and repetitive – much as this sounds like the world around us, note that it is the human-like forms that seem more constricted, most like a wrapped up piece of graph paper.
From the press release to “I’ll Keep It Till You Come Back”, Ms Telgeren’s 2013 show at Istanbul, Turkey’s Galerist: “The artist defines these works as part of a single, joyous crowd whose members sing along to the same song, but each contributing with their own distinctive timbre and note. They draw attention to phenomena and state of minds such as beauty, dreams, muses, subjective perception, oscillating moments, delirious times, sensuality and unpredictability, the vague instead of the absolute; in short, anything that is normally questioned by the rational mind.“
Would that we could see Ms Telgeren’s pieces and embrace those phenomena that make us feel alive, that we would question the things we think we know and leave ourselves open to the things we do not. After all, life tends to get a little stale when there is no longer any mystery left. As for an artist like Ayça Telgeren, we have her to thank for reminding us of the mystery and beauty of being, and for living up to her own hope of “creating from humanity’s inherent goodness, instead of reviling and destroying it.”