in order to keep it short, i cut down on the post about yavuz tanyeli in the first people sketches. then i simply procrastinated. naturally, a few posts can hardly say much that is significant about the artist in turkey. he deserves this second page of the sketch book at least.
yavuz has an ongoing exhibition in the karşı sanat gallery in galatasaray, accross from the church of san antonio on istiklal caddesi (beyoğlu) that will close on march 3. if you visit it, i think you'll aggree with me that he is the most interesting painter alive in turkey.
art criticism is an art in itself, so i am not pretending to know about paints, tints, thinners, techniques etc. but art appreciation is a direct derivative of one's capacity to perceive and represent the world mentally. so, what i write about yavuz's work pertains to content, which, in the context of plastic arts, also comprises form.
you cannot just look at yavuz's paintings. you watch them. what at first seems to be an abstract blotch of colored oil, sometimes literally splashed on the canvas, slowly reveals a very defined form that appears through the contours of colors. from the contours, form jumps to the contrasts. thereafter, the whole canvas, often larger than an ordinary living room wall, assumes a life of its own. it guides you through its own tale interspersed with myths and questions while
after the initial shock you realize that there is nothing in the picture that is abstract; only secret messages and meanings that lurk in every twist of the brush.
the main form is a story - whether it shows dead horses under the debris of an earthquake stricken town, a jazz band blowing wind instruments under the vine, kurds "cooking" heroin in a cave, it depicts an odd cross section from life that contains elements presumed contrary. but the story unravels. a colorful handkerchief sprouts from a trompet player's pocket, a cat juts its head into the picture like an indifferent self-critic, somewhere in what is supposed to be the background, another story breaks from an immorally brazen play of solidifying shadows
that links straight to the other acts in the picture (sometimes, even onto another picture). so, the apparently static frame grips you and drags you into multiple adventures at once. the overall effect is mesmerizing : looking at the whole, you see a complete picture. looking at the parts, you see a number of complete pictures which also are complementary to the whole, a sense of a tumultuous placidity that belies infernal action, which resembles standing at the edge of an abyss at once quiet, deadly and alluring.
i once spent a whole week gazing and watching only the hieronymus bosch and pieter brueghel collection in the kunsthistoriches museum in vienna - this is not meant as a comparison of artists and their art but the feeling of being in flux with the picture is the same. a sensation of something sweeping up your spine urges you to think again, that your mind is gathering cobwebs and is hungry for new knowledge, which indeed, is synonymous with a new reality and a plethora of experiences awaiting to be savored; what existentialist/phenomenologist jargon calls noemases.
the color expressions and the shapes yavuz likes to paint are also often bizarre and ominious at first - he has switched to livelier colors recently but the majority of yavuz's paintings tends to be dark. then, all the mockery and humor emerge from the brush lines and the macabre feeling goes away like watching a suspense movie.
i think of art as an exploration for the artist and as a journey of expedition for the viewer. yavuz and i have been on too many travels together, maybe it is not so surprising that his pictures can take me away on never-ending-trips-everywhere. however, after all those years, i have come to the conclusion that if you dig art and after looking at yavuz's work long enough, are still where you started, you are either beginning to "know the place for the first time" as t.s. eliot said or you have not the courage to launch on a voyage into your own void.
we are talking here of an artist who not only has a distinct style, but the class and competence that can establish the parameters of that style as a school of art. yavuz' s art is universal in quality. few contemporary galleries abroad carry few pictures that are as rich as his in content and strong in technique. furthermore, his work is unique, inimitable, inventive and original because of the particular path of creativity he has chosen and carved. yavuz's pioneering style takes not only its inspiration but also its matrices from the orient. he applies the orient to the practice of an art that is occidental to the last spark of its spirit, rather than repeating the third world mistake of applying the west's techniques to reshape the east's unmalleable soul.
guess that makes him the artist in turkey.