Text by Sinan Eren Erk*
“We know there were worlds
So much older…
And they shall rise, and
Tell us much more the truth of man”
(Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune)
Conceptual artist Genco Gülan, has brought his new exhibition Untitled to light few days ago, January 21st, 2014. After years of work and experience, this can be considered as a resumé of his adventure in conceptual colors of contemporary art.
The gallery space (EKAV Foundation, Istanbul) is used in a manner that allows all artworks “to talk” with each other apart from their unique placement, preventing monotony. Different mediums are being used with a variety of measurements, colors and display styles. Axles, like arteries, feeding the ease of legibility around which the exhibition revolves. Therefore the focal point of "Untitled" is the concept of meaning. Each artwork has its meaning however, even though they belong to different series or they are made in different mediums, create a bigger and much intense chunk of information. The exhibition holds layers of information, ready to be interpreted by the viewer, divided into all works.
Gülan’s art is somehow a mixture of the past and the possible future. On one hand, the milestones of the art history (classical, modern or post-modern) are being re-imagined and adapted in today’s reality, on the other hand they are transformed into something that predicts the oncoming days in Jules Verne’s precision. The work 22.2 that is basically a QR code in a big scale, done using tiny black and white tiles (betebe), is a perfect representation of such mixture. The QR code symbolizing the future, when scanned with a tablet or smartphone, gives you a contemporary poetry that has a parallelism with Kurt Schwitter’s in Dada movement. Similarly in Being Rembrandt van Rjin, the image of the famous self-portrait is deformed and adapted in today’s world by replacing his face with Gülan’s and his painting equipment with a computer keyboard and a bunch of painting brushes. These two works are made in different mediums, in different dates but even so in the exhibition, not just because of their placement but also because of their cross relation, they create a different third meaning layer that is still in relation with the other two.
To understand the full potential of the exhibition, one must first get rid of his prejudgements about the concepts and meanings, then prick up ears for the conversation between the artworks and finally rediscover the meaning. Therefore the lines that you get from the works individually, are getting clearer and clearer, surprisingly, with the help of much more other in between them…
*Sinan Eren Erk is an independent curator and writer. He worked in 12th Istanbul Biennial and Istanbul Design Biennial as assistant curator and in Documenta13 as contributor/speaker.