Painting the Social Dimension of Turkey’s Civil War

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ISTANBUL, Turkey — In the summer of 2015, the sizzling Urfa sun beat down on the painter Sidar Baki as he have become an artist. He had just been provided a nearby prize named after the social realist painter Nuri Iyem. For the next two years, he labored in most of the people Kurdish location one hundred eighty kilometers from Diyarbakir, his birthplace. One day, he had an epiphany at his domestic studio, in which his ultra-modern piece stood on an easel beside complete bookshelves. He stopped and went to the kitchen.
“I did some thing. I assume I observed it,” he informed his wife, Gulsah, who’s also educated in artwork. They sat down for dinner. A bomb went off. It hit a government regulation building inside earshot, blasting particles through the shattering home windows that ripped through his new painting. The couple back to Istanbul that yr, in which Baki studied at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University earlier than accepting a teaching post in Urfa in 2013.
Working in ground zero of Turkey’s civil conflict, which continues regardless of peaking in 2016, Baki became claustrophobic. He felt caught in his studio whilst the spacious Mesopotamian plains beckoned outdoor. The setting provided his acrylic palette a mix of white noise and crimson alarm, as for “Nowhere 10” (2019), the simplest landscape portray at his debut solo display, Nowhere.

Painting the Social Dimension of Turkey’s Civil War 1

“Nowhere 10” is awash with radiant wisps of cloud cowl against muted blues imposed over a narrow horizon of remote badlands. A quartet of boys crowd round a point within the ground, staring down, in evaluation to the extensive, open earth round them. The bloodless inexperienced soccer subject is pressed with stark gunmetal gray tones textured with tire tracks and gravelly depressions.
Throughout his profession, Baki has included expressionist and abstract affinities into his figurative scenes with a streetwise visible vocabulary. He captures the dystopia of making artwork in the face of armed conflict, as he experienced in Urfa. Its submit-traumatic effects are in his paintings. Even in Istanbul, he endures comparable pressures. He paints above his rental in an attic studio too small to reveal his work.
Born in 1981, Sidar Baki has painted professionally for two years. He isn’t sure that his paintings are artwork. That is for others to decide, he says. His upbringing in Diyarbakir changed into restricting. At faculty, he was now not allowed to talk Kurmanji, a northern Kurdish dialect, his mother tongue. He is taking his profession slowly, lately refusing an invitation to offer a speak at the inaugural STEP Istanbul event — a downtown artwork exhibition, community tour, speaker’s series and workshop application co-organized with the aid of Contemporary Istanbul. That stated, C.A.M. Gallery will show his work at Contemporary Istanbul, the city’s flagship annual art truthful..

Nowhere is at C.A.M. Gallery in Istanbul’s downtown Çukurcuma district, wherein many galleries moved following numerous attacks at artwork openings because 2010. Last year, Mahmut Celayir, a painter from Bingöl close to Diyarbakir, confirmed summary landscapes at C.A.M., shredding newspapers below subliminal coloration fields referencing the Kurdish flag. Months prior, Pg Art Gallery next door held a show with the aid of every other younger Diyarbakir-born artist, Hasan Pehlevan, who graffitied his op-art onto buildings slated for demolition and later on pieced them back together from the rubble.
Baki lives and works in Gazi, an inner city neighborhood 20 kilometers from Istanbul’s middle, where many Alawites live alongside internally displaced Anatolian teens who tag political slogans in public spaces.. In flip, the municipality covers them with rectangles of yellow paint, which Baki quotes in his art work. He teaches art to fifty college students at a time within the crowded, public center school near his home. It pays for supplies, and he gathers insights on growing his visual signature inside the method.

He has painted derelict warehouses considering the fact that his 2015 Nuri Iyem Painting Award gave him the self belief to discover as an artist. Nowhere introduces baby figures in his work. A glimpse inside his college demonstrates his ardour. There is barely a corner, from the classroom halls to the basketball courts, where his students have now not drawn, painted, and sculpted. He teaches them properly past the curricula approximately innovators like Picasso and Mondrian.
His paintings, “Nowhere 2” and “Nowhere 7” (each 2019), are extra function of the exhibition. Reimagining city “sacrifice zones,” a term for wholesale environmental devastation originating from nuclear fallouts at some stage in the Cold War, he foregrounds the youngest generation as they method existence in a twenty first-century metropolis. The kids in his fictive warehouses merge urban plans, construction sites and schoolyard video games in white chalk scrawled just like the naive strains of Cy Twombly. When I requested, Baki admitted that he did not recognize Twombly. His earliest revel in with art was looking the movie, “Lust for Life” (1956), starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh.

Three of his new paintings are free of architectural realism. “Nowhere 18” (2019) images a toddler seated on an immeasurable, dusty chalkboard, sketching apartment complexes, heavy machinery, street lighting, and planes overhead. The set up, “Nowhere Land” (2018), by the artist and professor Ferhat Özgür addressed related problem depend at Kasa Gallery this beyond wintry weather. Özgür photographed kids confronting the blockaded town of Sur, Diyarbakir, in 2016.
In contrast, Baki has internalized firsthand experience with Turkey’s civil battle, and the displaced urban migration that has resulted. He paints in harmony with youth whose new, concrete place of origin is below creation. His work is a testomony to a era of youngsters residing between pasts and futures unknown. Together, they emerge from nowhere, make it someplace, and contact it home.

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