Istanbul’s Arter gallery in Beyoğlu presents Turkish artist Canan’s solo exhibition entitled “Behind Mount Qaf.”
The exhibition brings together new works she had produced especially for this exhibition along with a number of earlier works, some of which have not been shown before. Unfolding across Arter’s three gallery floors, “Behind Mount Qaf” constitutes a comprehensive overview of the artist’s practice.
The exhibition is named after the legendary Mount Qaf of Arabic and Persian cosmology and includes works produced through various media, such as sculptures, photography, print, embroidery, videos, installations and miniatures.
“Behind Mount Qaf” proposes a reading of the artist’s practice through the themes of “heaven,” “purgatory” and “hell.” Her new works focus on dualisms such as light/shadow, good/bad, internal/external, reality/imaginary, lightness/darkness, and tackle the repressed aspects of the human psyche in the form of supernatural creatures, the jinn and archetypical figures, culminating in a multidimensional, mystical, symbolic and rather enticing universe.
Among the works, the photograph titled “Cybele,” which greets the viewer on the ground floor, is a self-portrait exhibited for the first time and represents the mother goddess through the artist’s own body.
Miniatures titled “Shahmaran” and “Şehretün’nar,” the mother of all jinn, once again depicted by the artist using her own face, guide the viewer through different states of consciousness on the three exhibition floors conceptualized as heaven (ground floor), purgatory (floor 1) and hell (floor 2).
The first of the many spatial installations in “Behind Mount Qaf,” the “Animal Kingdom” is a site-specific work produced for this exhibition and is located on the ground floor.
Covered in brightly colored and sequined fabrics, animals and creatures such as dragons, serpents and the phoenix, all of which exist only in fairy tales, fill up the gallery space overlooking İstiklal Street. Visible both from the outside through the glass display and from within the exhibition space itself, this installation connects the interior and the exterior in a world of fantasy.
Another new work situated on the heaven floor is a video titled “Women Bathing in Moonlight” (2017). In this video, shot on a full moon night on one of the Prince Islands (Burgazada) in Istanbul, a group of young women in summer dresses with flowers in their hair are first seen at the top of a hill, howling like wolves at the full moon. They then walk down to the seashore with joyous laughter and bathe in the sea. This mysterious almost archaic ritual constitutes a contrast with the cityscape in the background.
A book that accompanies the exhibition includes Nazlı Gürlek’s curatorial introduction and new commissioned essays by Kathy Battista, Tuğba Taş and Derya Yücel, all of whom address the artist’s practice from different perspectives.
Guided exhibition tours will also be organized at regular intervals during the exhibition. Viewers will have the opportunity to receive detailed information about the works using the audio guides offered free of charge.
The exhibition, which will open on Sept. 12, can be seen through Dec. 24.