Sayat Uşaklıgil

Biography:
Born in 1975, Istanbul, Turkey
1993-1997 Mimar Sinan University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting
1997-1999 Mimar Sinan University, Institute of Social Sciences, Post Graduate
Program

Awards:
1997 Sakıp Sabancı Vaksa Awards, First Prize of Painting Department

Personal Exhibitions:
2019 Merry Crowds (Multu Kalabalıklar), Galeri 77, Istanbul, Turkey
2018 Between Times (Zamanlar Arası), Galeri Kambur Arnavutköy, Istanbul, Turkey
2012 Walk of Fame (Yıldızlar Geçidi), Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2009 Stop Talking-Talk! (Suskonuş), Karşı Art Works, Istanbul, Turkey
2003 İş Bank-Parmakkapı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey

Group Exhibitions:
2017 Fragility of Now (Şimdinin Kırılganlığı), Daire Galeri, Istanbul, Turkey
2016 Breathe Vol.3 (Nefes 3), Merkür Galeri, Istanbul, Turkey
2015 Editing of Reality (Gerçekliğin Kurgusu), Russo Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2015 Las Meninas Reviews (Las Meninas Yorumları), Karşı Art Works, Istanbul, Turkey
2012 Doomsday (Kıyamet), Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2012 Together Vol.V (Hep Birlikte V), Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2011 Together Vol.IV (Hep Birlikte IV), Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2011 Together Vol.III (Hep Birlikte III), Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2011 1st. Istanbul Summer Exhibition, Beyaz Art-Art Harbour, Istanbul, Turkey
2011 Dream Night (Rüya Gecesi), Swiss Otel, Izmir, Turkey
2011 Connection (Bağlantı), Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2010 Near to Us (Vicino A Noi), Ufficio Cultura e İnformazioni dell’Ambasciata di Turchia a Roma, Italy
2010 Quintessences (Quintessenze), Scuderie Aldo Brandini, Frascati, Roma, Italy
2009 Synthesis Movement in Istanbul (Movimento Sintesi in İstanbul), Caddebostan Cultural Center-CKM, Istanbul, Turkey
2009 My Name Is Casper, 216 Thought&Production Platform, Karşı Art Works, Historical Sümerbank Building, Istanbul, Turkey
2009 Synthesis (Sintesi), Turkish-Italian Painting Exhibition, Altamira Art Gallery, Mersin, Turkey
2009 Synthesis (Sintesi), Turkish-Italian Painting Exhibition, Atatürk Univercity Cultural Center Art Gallery, Erzurum, Turkey
2009 Synthesis (Sintesi), Turkish-Italian Painting Exhibition, Ipsar, Roma, Italy
2008 Synthesis (Sintesi), Caddebostan Cultural Center-CKM, Istanbul, Turkey
2007 ARKHE Group Exhibition, Caddebostan Cultural Center-CKM, Istanbul, Turkey
2006 Homo Ludens - When Art Comes into Play (Quando l’arte entra in gioco), NeoArt Gallery, Roma, Italy
2004 ARKHE Group Exhibition Vol.4, Akademililer Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2003 ARKHE Group Exhibition Vol.3, Mine Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
1999 Group Exhibition, Galatea Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
1999 Turkish Heart Foundation Painting Exhibition, Istanbul, Turkey
1999 Ayşe & Ercüment Kalmık Foundation, 5th Painting Competition Exhibition, Istanbul, Turkey
1999 ARKHE-ARCHE Group Exhibition Vol.2, Elhamra Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
1998 ARKHE Gorup Exhibition Vol.1, Galatea Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
1998 Mimar Sinan University, Faculty of Fine Arts Lithography and Serigraphy Exhibition, Istanbul, Turkey
1998 Young Activity Vol.2 (Genç Etkinlik 2), KAOS Exhibition, Tuyap, Istanbul, Turkey
1997 Turkish Heart Foundation Painting Exhibition, Istanbul, Turkey
1997 Ayşe & Ercüment Kalmık Foundation, 4th Painting Competition Exhibition, Istanbul, Turkey
1996 Habitat II, ÖTEKİ Contemporary Art Exhibition, Antrepo, Istanbul, Turkey

Fairs:
2012 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, with Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2012 Art Bosphorus Art Fair, with Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2011 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, with Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2011 Art Bosphorus Art Fair, with Artgalerim Nişantaşı Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
2010 Art Bosphorus Art Fair, Arte Vista Booth, Istanbul, Turkey
2010 ARTIST 20. Tuyap Art Fair, Manic Attack (Manik Atak) exhibition, 216 booth, Istanbul, Turkey
2009 ARTIST 19. Tuyap Art Fair, System Failure (Sistem Arızası) exhibition, 216 booth, Istanbul, Turkey
2009 Immagina, Reggio Emilia Art Fair, Italy
2009-2004 ARTIST Tuyap Art Fair, ARKHE Group Exhibitions, Istanbul, Turkey

Performance:
1996 OPUS 29 Performance with Eric Anderson, Atatürk Cultural Center-AKM, Istanbul, Turkey

Sayat Uşaklıgil was born in 1975, in Istanbul. He has graduated ranking first in his class from Painting Department in Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, where he has also done his master’s degree. He has participated in group expositions with art initiatives “Arkhe” and “216”, along with several exhibitions and art fairs both local and abroad. He continues to work in his workshop located in Istanbul.

In his paintings, Sayat Uşaklıgil brings together spatial and temporal contrasts with shapes persisting from the memory of the past. His nostalgic female figures are depicted in all their innocence, far from the visual perception of today’s world. The artist takes these figures, petrified in their own era, and moves them through the infinite universe in constant motion to a dimension that is beyond any conception of time. The absurdity of this collage produces temporal tidal waves on the audience itself. While collating the sense of beauty of these pristine figures with the aesthetics of old book illustrations, the artist presents a certain permeability between times. Focusing on gestures and features in his work, Uşaklıgil manipulates the spatial ruptures and the shifts in synchroneity between the future and the past. This element of friction is further strengthened by the contrast of colored and black-and-white spaces in his paintings.

The painted figures are icons and symbols from a determined timeframe, no longer alive. They are just shapes and forms persisting as documents or memories in photographs, used by Uşaklıgil to signify the idiom “Memento Mori” (remember death). The artist presents this in a way that is surreal at times, and tranquil in others.


Review:
      UTOPIAN MERRINESS, SUR(REAL) REALITIES
      Composing artworks in figurative, utopian, surreal frames within context of time, extent and space, Sayat Uşaklıgil seeks to create ironic integrities in his body of work. Made by using acrylic paint, his paintings showcase alternative and multi-dimensional realities in a figurative density and a spatial depth. His works, in which he utilizes an approach that is illustrative and cinematographic, often include female figures and male and female figures compositely juxtaposed. Portraying innocent, merry figures and laughing, smiling, often fun moments; the artist creates a synthesis based on absolute reality with its surroundings, but also on nostalgia with figures in a collocation of the past and today.

      Sayat Uşaklıgil takes advantage of black and white vintage photographs from ‘40s and ‘50s when creating his paintings and compositions. These photographs, which he utilizes not in a direct and literal way but as a rendition and an approach, creates tips and clues in a micro scale about fashion, technology, literary or cultural approaches and modus vivendi changing and transforming between the past and today. The figures can be seen on the works in a state of perpetual dynamism and happiness. Being within “the moment”, living “the moment” and appraising it are what is being presented as an important indicator for the figures, depicted with absurd compositions.

      Depicting entertaining, merry loops and moments, the artist’s works include the alternative and minimal codes of a plastic parlance, rather than a more classic influence of painting. Uşaklıgil’s individual orientation and various cultural topics he is influenced by are reflected on his works. He is inspired by and some of these cultural topics and personal interests, vintage movie posters, book covers, images, illustrations of the past; all the while making these inspirations apparent in his body of work. With and approach towards painting in a minimal and illustrative manner, the artist skilfully utilizes acrylic paint in his compositions which basically is a material that dries fast and is hard to work with but altogether works towards creating an impressive visual quality. Comprised of the meeting of various overlapping frames and images reflecting formally on canvas in a spectacle that almost resembles science-fiction, the artworks create independent and striking contrasts in an equation of space and figure. His compositions are created by a natural effect of nostalgia that he draws out from the archives of his individual memory regarding those who are past and those who are stuck in the “moment”, referencing the times once filled with laughter and joy. The predominantly female and occasionally male figures in Uşaklıgil’s paintings are comprised of transformed aspects of nearly long ago images referencing the memory of that “moment”. What do the figures do on the canvas then? What do they engage in? The often female and sometimes male figures, laughing and looking very amused, depict moments next to impossible in independent and fictional realities. In a painting with black and white female figures playing instruments and making music, he relays the energy and the emotional intensity of that moment with a plain, ordinary but radiant red in the background. Images that are multi-figured with emotional intensity at the forefront, reflecting the sense of fashion, modus vivendi and the intellectual cycle of the period are made even more flamboyant thanks to Uşaklıgil’s technique.

      The artist creates striking harmonies utilizing monochrome and array of bright colors. The works, in which more often than not the background is colorful and the figures themselves are black and white, present several references taken by the artist from the basis of art history. He opts for Baroque in its dynamism and vivid colors and shapes in motion with dashy and flamboyant colors of his own. In this way the joyous states and active movements of the images on the canvas are further invigorated and blended in a coherence of color and form. He presents to the audience pastel and flashy colors beside cold and warm ones, all within the contrast of a massive plastic collage. The absolute figurative and spatial eclecticism in contrast further supports the conceptual formalism inherent in the paintings.

      In his works Sayat Uşaklıgil also creates fictional plastic images with active scenes of places which he chooses to describe and use based on his personal areas of interest from past to present. After the figures in action at the forefront, one can notice absurd places presented in layered realites with a more naïve motion in the background. UFOs gliding through blue skies upon steep and rugged mountains, spacecrafts, a dystopian universe, medieval castles among foliages, greeneries sembling tropical jungles or iconic places and scenes from various science-fiction or thriller movies are some of the backgrounds which take place in the paintings in an absurd manner in the form of plural layers of perception. The artist rigorously fictionalizes the scenes in the background with those of the foreground. A group of people dances merrily in the foreground in the face of a horrifying image of a cow snatched by a tornado in the background - the feeling of horror and anxiety felt by the audience against the sheer power and expression of the image is not noticed or considered important by the dancing crowd. By the state of chaos in which the tornado sweeps through and destroys everything near it, the artist reminds the audience of the upcoming thin line between total destruction or a struggle to escape of the dancing figures. Ironically, while the audience is being stressed, the happy-go-lucky state of the figures in the painting serves extremely well to relay the emotional and imaginary synthesis fictionalized by the artist.

      The artist presents an illustrative delusion of reality with absurd choices of places between the past and the future and the gestures of the figures within. The contrasting subject is intertemporality and the dimension of reality. The figures transformed from the frames from the past are relayed in a state of happiness and joy. What’s more interesting is that these figures on the collages created by drawing from photographs are not even alive anymore. Whether in space or a ballroom of a hotel, these people coming from the past to today in an absurd integrity, remind us of living in the moment, being mortals, a state of transience and a worldly variation. The figurative approach in which the artist also focuses on “Memento Mori” (remember death) is a token of imagery of happiness, joy, indifference towards terrifying facts and living and experiencing the moment itself.

      Figures focused on that moment between the tides of time and space, ineloquently but affectedly watching a movie beside a shark near an aquarium; dashing, coquettish images of women looking like they have jumped from a movie scene from the mid-20th century; another group of women depicted with an illustrative intensity, a black and white balance of power and a sharp harmony of monochrome, having a discussion on music with records in their hands; a male figure applying makeup on a woman while turning the heads of all other women with a discourse on beauty and aesthetics on a pastel pink background; Mr. Spock looking all casual in a spaceship, lecturing a class on space and universe; and finally the scene from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which involves the artist himself among a merry crowd in Overlook Hotel. The artist opens the door to a fictitious, imaginate and illustrative world with an approach that is ironically spatial and figurative. The figures seen on the paintings are created with a pure aesthetic, a conceptual integrity and the power of the image; by permeable status of the space coming from the past to today, and by way of the argument that all happiness is fleeting, life is mortal, the happy moments will end someday and every moment in life should be experienced with joy. The paintings which depict in every composition and absurd situation, are further supported by subjective and objective icons and relayed with strikingly sharp, dynamic and dramatic contrasts.

      In these collage paintings which he creates using an illustrative and plain manner, Sayat Uşaklıgil as a result highlights the fleeting states of joy, the ephemerality of time and the value of moments in a pluralist way, utilising figures in the center and minimal colors or bizarre atmosphere in the background. With multidimensional, multilayered and metaphorical paintings bearing an aesthetic integrity and a feast of striking images based upon the traces of an individual memory, the artist welcomes the audience!

Melike Bayık