Artist depicting atmosphere of memory in first solo exhibition
Torcu’s first personal exhibition in Turkey will open Feb. 3 at Gallery Zilberman. The works in the exhibition focus mainly on the artist’s family photographs.Young Paris-based Turkish painter Aslı Torcu is in search of representing the feeling that stems from photographic images and compares her work to the act of remembrance as an imaginative reconstruction of the past.
Torcu’s first personal exhibition in Turkey will open Feb. 3 at Gallery Zilberman. The works in the exhibition focus mainly on the artist’s family photographs. “I found these photographs in a big box during a visit to my grandmother a few years ago. We do not know if all these people are our family. My grandmother is old and her memory is failing her. I chose some pictures among the pile and started to work on them. Among the figures I painted are my mother, aunt and uncle, but also some family friends that I do not know.”
Among the paintings that are not focused on family photographs are “Henna Night,” “By the Fireplace” and “The Son,” which were based on images either found on the Internet or at antiquarian book shops.
The polyptych work titled “Power” is not based on family photographs either and uses a play on words in its title. “The pictures are of some of those listed by Forbes magazine as the most powerful women of 2010. When I saw these pictures, I felt the fact that the power that is generally associated with male power has caused a change in the facial features of these women, making them resemble a man more than a woman.” The painting’s Turkish name is “Erk,” which means power, but is also the root word of “man” in Turkish (erkek). Torcu said that because her main focus was to reflect the feeling that a photograph creates in her, she thought she could display this polyptych work with the rest.
Paper gives me freedom
Talking about her technique, Torcu said she was not benefiting from projection techniques to reflect the pictures onto the canvas; neither was she using preliminary sketches. “I mostly work with acrylic painting on paper. In some works I applied oil painting over acrylic. This helps me to create the dreamy atmosphere that I want.” She said she initially had to choose paper for economy. “First, I was painting on big cardboard papers I found on the street. Then I shifted to paper and I really liked it. It dries easily and you can make rolls, which helps greatly in storage, particularly if you are living in Paris where the flats are very small. Paper gives me freedom, but I also like it for another reason. It gives room for coincidences.”
She explained that coincidences meant the accidental discoveries she made while working with the paint on paper. “I think a painting in which everything is under control is not sincere. A work flawless and complete does not excite me, because, first of all, that is not how I am. I am human and I have flaws, so my work should too. There should be flaws and I should discover new things as I am trying to cover up those flaws. These discoveries and surprises are my little happy moments.”
She also said the way paper reacted to the paint was very different from canvas and suited her aim in terms of the atmospheric affect she was trying to create in her works. “You cannot overdo the same spot as often as you can with oil painting, so you have to think more carefully while painting,” she said.
The exhibition will run through March 3 at Gallery Zilberman.