Artist pushes the boundaries of sculpture with ‘Earthly Realm’
In a new exhibition that opened on Jan. 30, Istanbul’s Anna Laudel Gallery presents “Earthly Realm” by acclaimed sculptor Bilal Hakan Karakaya. Karakaya is renowned for his unique technique of using different materials, pushing the boundaries of traditional sculpture production.
Working with resin, industrial and natural waste, Karakaya reflects the impressions of individuals trapped in the chaos of modern city life on his works. The artist reinterprets the complex structure of daily life and reestablishes it by applying a symbolic approach.
The figures of the artist reflect the “alienation” of the oppressed human beings under the weight of the capitalist world. His sculptures are inspired by the reality of life and establish relationships with the past and the present.
Karakaya’s unique way of using different kinds of materials, and how he incorporates them into the reproduction process, are the key features that define his art practice. He refuses to use any kind of protective tools, such as gloves, as he finds them against the nature of the sculpture. He prefers being in direct contact with the materials during the production process in order to avoid distance from the work.
There is a general tendency of “rise” in Karakaya’s artworks. This upward trend can also be observed in his works in “Earthly Realm” showcased across three floors at Anna Laudel.
The exhibition, with a different story on each floor, opens to the audience’s experience with Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, as in Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” In the exhibition, Karakaya reverses the usual static structure of the sculpture and turns it upside down; with this way structures that need to be thinned as it rises in this way, are gradually thickening and enlarging.
The artist offers different perspectives and new ideas to the audience with the contrasts he created between the floors of the exhibition such as death-life and space-time. The contradiction between the floors can also be seen in the works on the same floor.
Showing deaths’ horrifying side on the first floor, the vaccine series on the third floor gives life to the diseased one and death. Along with the vaccination series, there are works such as drawings and reading desks.
On the second floor, works with the references to ancient texts and mythology appears. The sculpture of the Egyptian God “Osiris” and “Adam and Eve” are such examples from the exhibition.
Osiris, the god of agriculture, fertility, and death, embodies the power of death and life. Karakaya in this work recreates the story of Osiris, finding himself in a coffin in the middle of the Nile River as a result of the betrayal of his brother and the absorption of the coffin by the tree.
“The Adam and Eve” installation, which is exhibited in the darkroom inside the gallery space, represents the process of witnessing the story of creation. But unlike the known depictions of the iconology of the “Adam and Eve,” Karakaya exhibits them as rotten bodies in a coffin.
This carefully curated selection reflects Karakaya’s narrative behind his art production, transforms the gallery space into a stage, inviting the visitors to participate on a journey and become a part of the game through the themes of the concept of time, death, eternity and life.
Showcasing Karakaya’s new works, as well as the recent ones, the exhibition “Earthly Realm” can be seen through March 8.
About the artist
Born in 1979 in Ankara, Karakaya studied at Gazi University Faculty of Education’s Art Education Department between 1999 -2004. In 2006, he began working with artist Hanefi Yeter. In 2014, he set up his first solo exhibition “Hybrid Delusions” at Art350 Gallery (now Anna Laudel). The artist participates in various group exhibitions, international symposiums and continues working in his studio in Istanbul.