Galeri Manâ, Istanbul: Hell-Heaven

Murat Akagündüz


15 March to 28 April 2012

Galeri Manâ is pleased to announce our first solo exhibition with the artist Murat Akagündüz between the dates March 15 – April 28, 2012. Entitled Hell-Heaven, the exhibition will include new paintings from Akagündüz’s Homeland-Anatolia series and a video installation that shares its title with the exhibition.

Akagündüz’s paintings of Anatolia revisit the genre of landscape painting, which has had a long history in this very same geography. Created using only resin on canvas, the brown tones in these paintings recall sepia photographs at first glance. A strange balance between familiarity and remoteness is to be found in the imagery of these landscapes. Akagündüz’s works celebrate and question the medium of painting at the same time. While his paintings carry a romantic intention and manifest painterly expressionism and subjectivity, they also contain documentative objectivity and bluntness. As such, they draw references with different movements in the history of painting from Orientalism to Romanticism and later to modernist as well as postmodernist sensibilities.

The paintings in this exhibition were created after the artist’s many trips to and through various parts of Anatolia. They are the remnants of his memories, recreated with the help of sketches made and photographs taken during his travels. The paintings all depict real/certain places, some more obvious than others. Perfectionism is not pursued in representation; instead the materials of the painting take over. In some works, representation begins to border on abstraction.

Akagündüz’s two Turabdin paintings, near the Mesopotamian border depict and document a certain landscape: the view from the ruins of Deyrülzafaran (also known as the Saffron Monastery). The two landscapes hang side by side and their horizons almost connect; the gap between them is left to the imagination of the viewer. Another work portrays the Byzantine ruins of Ani in the northeast Anatolian city of Kars. In this piece the geography of the landscape takes precedence over the manmade structures and the ruins appear to be just barely discernible at the center of the canvas. Alternatively, the two paintings, Island-Continent I and II, are allover landscapes of only rocks and as such, they border on abstraction. Nevertheless, every single one of these paintings refers to real geographic locations though sometimes the specific place only has meaning and memory for the artist himself.

Akagündüz juxtaposes his landscape paintings with a video installation in the first floor of the exhibition, hence disclosing the paradoxical relationship between the digital images versus the painted one. Hell-Heaven, the title work of the exhibition, features a large projection of the murky running waters of the river Euphrates, the main water source of Mesopotamia for centuries. 15 small monitors, scattered in front of this projection, depict individually the eyes of the different species of birds that compose the fauna of Anatolia. A video work, documentary and almost scientific in nature; it is the starting point of the series and sets the backdrop and tone for the paintings themselves. Indeed Akagündüz directs the gaze of the viewer, through the gaze of the birds back to the paintings, into the landscapes he has chosen to portray.

Murat Akagündüz was born in Izmit, Turkey in 1970 and received his B.F.A. from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul. Akagündüz is best known as a founding member of the Hafriyat Art Initiative. He lives and works in Istanbul. His work has been exhibited at Arter, Istanbul Modern, Aksanat and the 9th Istanbul Biennial. Akagündüz will be included in an upcoming group show at the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in Paris next fall.

A fully illustrated book, including essays by Beral Madra, Emre Baykal and Tanıl Bora will accompany the exhibition.

Galeri Manâ is open Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 to 18:00.
Kemankeş Mahallesi
Ali Paşa Değirmeni Sokak, no 16–18
Beyoğlu 34425, İstanbul, Turkey

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