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ARTS >‘Light and Color’ at Sabancı Museum

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Marking his 85th birthday and the 65th year of his career, German artist Heinz Mack opens ‘Mack. Just Light and Color,’ featuring over a hundred works at Istanbul’s Sakıp Sabancı Museum

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Istanbul’s Sakıp Sabancı Museum is hosting the leading artist of German modernism, Heinz Mack, with an exhibition titled “Mack. Just Light and Color,” showcasing the artist’s long and prolific career with over a hundred works.

Realized under the curatorship of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum Director Nazan Ölçer and art historian and former Exhibitions Secretary of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, Sir Norman Rosenthal, the exhibition notably marks the 85th birthday and 60th year of Mack’s career with a series of exhibitions taking place in the Far East, Europe and Turkey. 

Mack is notably among the founders of the mid-20th century avant-garde art network, the ZERO movement. The exhibition, encompassing the artist’s formative earlier works that informed the revolutionary philosophy of the ZERO movement, brings together paintings, monumental sculptures and kinetic works produced throughout the artist’s long career. 


Regarding light as an infinite source of life and pursuing it with unshaken determination has been both a personal approach and an influential artistic strategy for Mack. 

After spending the years of his youth amidst the cold desolation left by World War II in Germany, Mack shaped his art around light, which throughout history and geographies has been the harbinger of a new day and opportunities yet unexplored.

When Mack concluded the works and activities within the ZERO framework in 1967, the artist continued to work intensively as an independent philosopher and artist. His investigative approach to his work began within the Western tradition in which he was born, but went on to draw its strength from his desire to understand traditional Eastern knowledge and its intellectual principles. Within Mack’s oeuvre, in which the artist travels to regions where the natural expression of light is in its most powerful form, ranging from the North Pole to the Sahara Desert, light often becomes both the material as well as the work itself.


‘All of us need light’

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mack said, “My works and all of us need light as well as shadow. This is why my works are mingled with light.” 

Mack said art academies were destroyed after World War II and the ZERO exhibition started in the ground floor of a collapsed art academy in Dusseldorf. 

“We started by cleaning this wreck in a cold weather. We had depression; there was a big gap after the war in 1960s. Not only artistic but intellectual gap. We had interest in various movements such as structuralism in France, bauhaus and expressionism in Germany, and supremacism in Russia. The artists of my age worked with single color on their canvas,” Mack said. 

He said that he had made black and white paintings from 1957 to 1967. “Then I was interested in artistic monuments such as big sculptures. I started using colors again in 1991 and returned painting,” he said, adding that in his art, he was impressed by the East most. 

Today, Mack is at the peak of a prolific artistic career in which he has produced works ranging from the revolutionary echoes of the ZERO movement that set out to change the world, to monumental works that straddle continents, and from kinetic sculptures to canvases that embrace all the colors discernible by the human eye. 

“Just Light and Color” will run through July 17.

February/20/2016

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