Art historian and curator
YAPRAK AKINCI, YOUNG TALENTS
A visit to the exhibition of the young painter Yaprak Akinci is a salutary experience, not only for its channelling of imagination and emotion, but also on account of that rare feeling the you are in the midst of an authentic pictorial talent. The show, which is currently being staged at the Cultural Office of the Turkish Embassy in Rome, is a whirlwind of acrylics on canvas that depict deserted landscapes, almost dreamlike visions that invite unseen nature to be interpreted.
“Remnants. What’s left of an era buried underground” is the alarming title of the exhibition, which gives the viewer an insight into the artist’s imagination, which is defined by scenes of dreadful solitude, in a world hit by an unknown catastrophe that has cancelled animal and vegetable life, albeit with the occasional enigmatic trace of buried civilisations.
Visions of a haunted future devoid of human presence are represented by immense spaces, oblique perspectives, troubling structures evoking archaeological remains and long, deserted motorways, serving to tell a macabre tale of self-destruction. Although the subject of her canvases is the world as it remains after unspoken devastation (perhaps nuclear war, a chemical disaster or even mass extinction), Yaprak’s works do not convey tragedy but rather a sense of dismay, evoking long-held fears stirred up in the most remote corners of the psyche. Perhaps these serve as a warning to modern man not to destroy a land of such beauty that, even in the wake of an apocalypse, is able to retain evidence of its ancient beauty.
The Turkish artist’s style is characterised by her exquisite sensitivity to colour in the subdued tones of the earth, the ultramarines and dusty blues, the ochres, whites and blacks. The incisiveness of her strokes, meanwhile, betrays her time studying graphics in Turkey, a quality that makes her paintings resonate with a continuing tension, both in the linear aspect that tends towards the infinite and in her skilful weaving of signs.
The artist’s form of neo-expressionism focuses on a return to painting, offering an emotional analysis of the history of her country and of the world, which is translated into images that evoke the end of an era but that also become metaphors for deep and unexplored inner solitude.
The endless horizons captured from on high, the vast clearings of uncultivated land but in particular the looming pyramid-like constructions are reminiscent of the hallucinatory pictorial visions of Anselm Kiefer. Unlike the German artist, though, Yaprak’s works feature neither alternative materials nor too obvious allegory.
Instead, her works convey an atmosphere of troubling silence – limitless space and unmoving time, without the possibility of change, stand for a melancholy and disconsolate sense of definitive “loss”. The need for synthesis and aesthetic essentials are the dominant force in her composition.
If artistic images are an instrument teaching us to view the world more carefully and critically, Yaprak Akinci’s works have this crucial effect, as by using sharp pathos to demonstrate the potential destiny of future human history, they raise fundamental questions in need of urgent answers.
Published online in 2015
AVANT-GARDE REVIVALS OF SUBLIME RUINS
Deserted architectural scenarios have always evoked meditative sensations that the German writer Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe associated with the overwhelming feeling of the “sublime”. In fact, Goethe anticipated the obsession with majestic past glories and the revival of an idealised lost Golden Age that inspired 19th century poets and intellectuals.
Yaprak Akinci, with her evocative and fierce artworks, conveys the same intense frustration and melancholic sentiment towards contemporary society, as did Romantics over two centuries earlier. In her sharp representations of architectural fragments and structural fractions, this accomplished artist reveals an uncorrupted passion for present-day ruins, portrayed as decadent wrecks of a dissolute humanity.
The fascination with abandoned monuments seems to be inspired by the great Giovanni Battista Piranesi, whose depictions of Roman ancient magnificence were a subtle denunciation of the ethical inadequacy towards the most virtuous of ancestors.
While Piranesi was marking a new historical consciousness, Akinci is highlighting a current and factual crisis of values.
Notwithstanding an undeniable attraction for the collateral beauty hidden in angular shapes of abandoned items, Akinci’s body of work reflects a social criticism but perhaps also an unspoken admiration or curiosity towards the creator of those terrific buildings.
Manifestations of an omnipresent consumerism, her paintings insinuate the artist’s stupor in realising that what she is seeing is part of a shelved and forgotten project, a fragment of a whole and significant scheme that for unfamiliar reasons have been left behind.
Therefore, a profound discrepancy between a commemorated ruin and decrepit architectures appears: Akinci’s work glorifies and exalts the visual contamination of pure environments, disrupted by disturbing unfinished forms.
A paradise lost in a dehumanized and degraded future, where colours and emotions have been destroyed by a silent and unknown cataclysm. This emotional effect provoked by Akinci’s scenarios is fortified by her wise use of the sfumato technique to fade the contours and dissolve the lines.
Wondrous perspectives create a distance in time, enhancing the apocalyptic and visionary atmosphere. Thus, Akinci’s paintings aid us in a deeper understanding of the laceration emerged from human passage on earth.
Her universe is emotionally charged with a profound expressionist distortion - the bare landscapes combine some eloquent and dramatic Post-Impressionistic representations with the vibrant and dynamic brush strokes by Gino Severini.
So, geometric essentials and Italian Futurism melt together in perfect harmony in Yaprak’s unique spatial partitions. Her three-dimensional ambiguity stimulates a personal and constantly evolving creative inspiration that culminates in an extraordinary pictorial Deconstructivism.
Akinci gives life to a genuine interpretation of the fragile boundary between reality and imagination, that smoothly dissolves through the thin layer of perception.
As in Plato’s theory of Forms, we can only perceive the authentic essence of an entity if we go beyond the shadows of a distorted and prejudiced observation. Despite the collapse of civilization, the beauty of chaos is breathtaking and unexpected.
Ultimately, Yaprak Akinci’s portrayals are far from an imitation of the perceived world: her audacious intersecting strokes echo a collective subconscious, a contemporary chimera fuelled by introspective memories.
Published in personal catalogue 2017
Mia Carey Cupic
International Confederation of Art Critics
HYPNOTIC METAPHORS OF MORAL COLLAPSE
Yaprak Akinci’s extraordinary body of artwork demonstrates an evolving and flourishing artistic practice. This brilliant young Turkish artist manifests endless talent through her broad range of aesthetic elements and study of shape and reflection. Akinci vividly conveys her deeper imaginative intentions embodying contrasting creative avenues, from provocative photographs and refined engravings to striking installations and paintings.
Transferring an enigmatic and irretrievably damaged world onto canvas, Akinci highlights contemporary ruins as a critical focal point to communicate sensitive and delicate issues. Akinci’s oeuvre traverses many divergent styles with the ability of evoking an endless variety of creative stimuli that absorb and captivate the spectator. Taking inspiration from preliminary photographs, Akinci vigorously reinterprets what she captured on camera into expressive and vibrant paintings.
Intensely influenced by industrial areas, this artist immortalises particular perspectives of obscure crude oil plants, obsolete workshops, excavations, forgotten railway lines and abandoned buildings, investigating the unfathomable souls of these deserted modern ruins.
Thus, each shot directly leads Akinci to a deep alteration process that culminates in thoughtful artworks which outline and enhance the skeleton of metropolitan views. Albeit the fierce final result, Akinci’s cityscapes remain ambiguous shadows of overpowering and profound derelict vistas, with anonymous figures and intangible structures, like a blurry remembrance of a previously perceived reality.
Expanding her personal artistic cosmos, Akinci’s philosophy echoes the acclaimed German artist Anselm Kiefer, whose creations inspired by urban landscapes and colossal industrial spaces evoke the linear abstraction and darkness in Akinci’s compositions. Similarly to Kiefer, who finds expression through alternative and symbolically charged material, the viewer bears witness to overpowering forsaken scenes in Akinci’s artworks, largely accomplished through her unique choice of medium and artistic technique.
The soft texture achieved with the eloquent use of oil bars and the intensity of the brushwork allow for a truly exceptional and dynamic artistic conception that emphasises depth and that becomes the threshold into a fabled, otherworldly realm.
Undeniably, the viewers feel immersed in the distant but familiar ruins captured by Akinci’s unique expressive vision.
The shadowy amalgamation of lines and forms, infused with murky shades of grey, blacks and browns, creates a profound impact that distorts our notion of reality. Altogether, her paintings portray an indistinct and ambiguous structural atmosphere that is hazy and out-of-focus, both visually and metaphorically. The pictorial surface is visually enigmatic with non-figurative appearances that provoke a dreamlike experience and catalyse relentless ideas perforating deep into one’s subliminal consciousness.
Saturated with allegories, Akinci’s paintings illustrate the immeasurable flaws in mankind via a story of unrestricted architectural development and frantic metropolitan transformation. Her dramatic structures reflect potent philosophical principles related to life and death, creation and demolition, urban revival and anarchy - corrupted landscapes that incorporate destructive elements of a forgotten world, suggesting loss and neglect, that is conveyed by a unique and powerful artistic language that radiates inherent beauty and poetic silence.
Finally, Akinci’s paintings portray extremely forceful enigmas, with hidden depths and perspective receding as far as the eye can see, in a powerful succession of sharp lines, intersecting forcefully, and soaring high. Set amid a barren landscape these immense structures are traversing, exploding and dispersing into exhausts of bold hues, reminiscent of corrosive fumes emitted from uncontrolled development.
Albeit the veiled soul of Akinci’s deepest emotions, the viewer can contemplate notions of harmony and peace, belittled in today’s world of increasing greed and chaos.
Moral and social collapse is the underlying message that intersects and unites Akinci’s artistic expression, whose complex philosophy is ultimately conveyed through post- apocalyptic scenarios of a desolate society resting on the precarious pillars of a deplorable modern metamorphosis.
Published in personal catalogue 2017