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Signs of Time



9-31 January 2015


Artists: Burak Ata, SABO, Burak Dak, Sena, Huo RF, Nihat Karataşlı


Signs of Time artist collective are proud to announce their third exhibition, Cross the Earth, Her head is on the Balcony, at Pi Artworks Istanbul. The collective, which included Huo Rf, Sena, SABO, Burak Ata, Burak Dak was founded to bring together young artists together who shared an admiration toward each other’s work. 


The exhibition’s title comes from a verse in French artist, poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s poem Discourse For the Big Sleep. It focuses on the recent works of five artists from the group. Their different subjects and, stylistic approaches are brought together under the curatorial concept of; the reality, the actual and self-reckoning.


Cross the earth, her head is on the balcony also includes a project partnership with new media artist Nihat Karataşlı. Karataşlı will analyze the relation between the audience and the exhibited work with a new experimental method, which will be a visual installation showing this experimentation and collected data during the exhibition.




Wake up in the morning. Look outside. What are the signs of time? An endless concrete jungle… Cars, cars, cars, traffic, traffic, speed… Unexpectedly blossomed mimosas and trees with their summer clothes on in the middle of winter. Walking people stare at bright screens in their hands. People take photos as they kiss; they see and show everything. Garbage collectors on other side; ignored by everyone, like they are from a different universe. Shopping mall bags, sales, percentages, opportunities and the “must-haves”… Look inside from the balcony. See the window wiper, breast feeder, latecomer, eater, beaten, rape victim, women endured in silence. See the shouter, lover, threatening, acquisitive, love maker and the impotent. See the ball player, hungry sleeper, iPad gamer, children eating organic broccoli.


With “Cross the earth, her head is on the balcony” Signs of Time stands as a hope against world’s insoluble chaos. The collective serves as a light leaking through the doorway, and proves that we can still walk, produce and resist together. Signs of time is a handful of people, an inner, sincere and confident circle that prefers to remain as it is and only cares about widening this circle rather than branding itself: Huo RF, Burak Ata, SABO, Burak Dak and Sena.


With ‘Salon des Refusés’ series, Burak Ata cares about painting both at individual and professional levels. The first painting of the series seems to depict a handful of young men playing basketball in an ordinary neighborhood. However, the self-portrait of the artist that resembles anamorphic skulls in Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’ and the open-seeming basketball field that looks like an uncompleted steel construction due to the red perspective lines makes things complicated. Thus, the second look makes you discover the soul of Rogier van der Weyden’s ‘Pieta’ within the Renaissance painting-like trio, and the depth nourished by the mural as also applied by the artist in his previous works. Moreover, the work opens up like a ployptyque and reveals her uniforms like an icon.


Burak explains that he prefers portraying basketball since it is a collective game. Just like basketball players, members of Signs of Time always pass the ball to each other through constructive criticism. While the uniform numbered 63 makes a reference to ‘Salon des Refusés’, a collection of art works rejected in 1863’s Paris, each artist in Signs of Time are already accepted among contemporary art world through their unique themes and characteristic ways of painting. The only single thing that can be ‘hard to accept’ regarding Signs of Time can be their solidarity on producing and exhibiting together to be independent and stand up against the worsening conditions of the market.


We recognize Sena from her women-themed works that either fearlessly disintegrate or wisely combine elements of women. She is a unique artist that goes beyond her experience with being a woman and opens up her sense to all conditions of the feminine. This situation provides Sena a great intuition and a powerful way of expression. She is an extroverted artist that neither fears of portraying herself while being pregnant, nor elegize for Hacer, a pregnant woman thrown into a well and left for dead. Inspired by the story of Hacer, Sena discovers a well within and plunges into the water. Getting drowned is not inevitable anymore; the artist can decide the point to come back to the surface. It is only her hair and her roots that prevent her from reaching to surface by joining hands with her adventitious organic bonds. Just like the texture in the work of Sena, such powerful women knows how to get free from this volunteer imprisonment and send flowers to the surface to meet the light.


The similar conditions of being a woman can also be observed in ‘Trousseau’, which Sena figured for this exhibition. Familiar themes and figures such as vulva and black widow are portrayed in white plates and red, pink and black colors. The woman running with wolves, beside the potbellied women, who feels pressured to lose weight due to the dominant visual culture that forces women to be skinny. Eve, who claims both her diamond and her snake, is depicted next to women waiting for their wedding night and young girls sold for bride price. This trousseau, compiled by a sensitive woman makes the observer lose her appetite.


There’s a virus that impacts the world of SABO. It is not known how, why or to whom this virus has impact; but the only thing known about this virus is that it causes physical disorder among infected.


Can such physical deformations be fetishized in time and be elements of desire? One inevitably recognises how being skinny was perceived as an indication of unhealthiness before it became fetishised in 20th century; or how psychological disorders of authoritarian political leaders turned into appreciated personality characteristics in time. When does racism turn into a virtue from being a cause of discrimination? When do inequality and injustice turn into tumors on people’s faces, which everyone sees but no one cares? Maybe this is why, ‘B. File Prisoners’ of SABO are prisoned; the ‘Wanted Man’ is prisoned for the same reason and infected people threateningly look just like us. 


SABO prepared two canvases for this exhibition. The background of canvases is free from color. In his previous works, SABO used to care about the background space as well, but this time he prefers setting the space free as an expression of freedom. The perspective, architectural elements and even colors of his previous works are faced with inexpressive and still figures at the forefront. Now, it’s time to focus on our selves and discover the defects within. Maybe that’s how we will find a cure to this virus.


A contemporary and hybrid specialty from Burak Dak to a hero... With a hand fan on one hand and a Kalashnikov on the other, this hero does not seem to care about his social environment. With all his glory, he is rooted both in the east and the west. His companion is a thirsty and horny stud; just like a freak that has horns of a unicorn and a deer and the feather of a lion. A strong western head that governs eastern animals… An ironic eastern man portrayed by Dak in clothes of Renaissance period…


How is this guy related with Adam of Quran? How will this guy put out the fire inside while leaving the olive tree beside him to death? The shadows on this hero’s face make the observer question how this guy will succeed by ignoring demands of the people he represents with an arrogant attitude.


The grotesque and absurd elements that Dak articulates into this traditional aristocrat portrait are deeply impressive. Dak used to disintegrate the parts of body in his previous works; this time he prefers bringing different identities, human and animal bodies from various geographies altogether by adding attractive artistic elements. The major dilemma in the artist’s work is the contradiction between the painting and the title of “The Dawn of Spring”.


The triptych work of Huo Rf is a self-portrait based around temporality; which can also be read as a diary of four years represented in three canvases. In this work, which Huo Rf titles ‘Part One’, the artist portrays the years that he spent by leaving his hometown and moving to İstanbul. A famous slogan of Gezi Park protests are also included in the canvas as a symbolic representation of deformation he went through when he got hurt. Lucien portrayed a flower that Freud loved when he died. His wounds, crudeness, edges, kitsch attitudes, love-besotted style, pleasure addiction, color and soul transformations were all transferred into the canvas by Lucien. Graceful lines, natural colors and thin stains indicate a staid fragility. Huo Rf filters his last four years and shares the remaining parts with only the ones that share his sensitivity. He was not the Huo Rf, as we know him today, when he first started working on this canvases. Recognising the fact that he will not be the same Huo Rf after this exhibition, he ordered three new canvases for ‘Part Two’. It is exciting to be a part of a life-long self-confrontation from its beginning.


The sincere exploration of Huo RF stems from a strong instinct that also impacts on the overall collective. This instinct derives from self-expression. By saying, “This is me, these are my thoughts, this is what I experienced and these are my expectations”, Huo Rf feels the sweet peace of self-expression. All the signs of time we see from the balcony find their own place in this space. The young basketball players of Burak Ata, SABO’s infected but happy cell-phone addict people, Burak Dak’s freak that has the potential to bring on the spring after destruction, Sena’s women that will not enter the bridal chamber or get drowned, and Huo Rf’s artistic portrait in line with the soul of the time…


Hande Oynar


Pi Artworks Gallery

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