Melih Çebi Baby on Board

18/03/2023 - 22/04/2023


Pilot Gallery is happy to announce to host Melih Çebi's first solo exhibition at its gallery space, titled "Baby on Board", between March 18 and April 22, 2023. "Baby on Board" presents Melih Çebi's personal journey to connect with other creatures and the world around him, the everlasting search for the identity of the individual who was born into a consumer society and tries to keep up with the digital age, with works produced over the last four years. By juxtaposing personal and historical, past and contemporary issues interweave into a tapestry of references. Çebi offers a consistent language throughout his works spawned over different mediums such as sculptures, carpets, paintings and ceramics, which are home to a familiar character cader.


Çebi's works deal with themes of existentialism and the unsatisfying nature of the consumer society; the rapidly changing world, trend-focused culture and the pressureto keep up with them are reflected in the recurring characters at the forefront of Çebi's works. At some point, these characters come as the embodiment of Philip Cushman's theory of "empty-self" where he discusses the idea of self in a state of emptiness that is satisfied through channelling in consumer goods as a way of designating their status in the eyes of the society by reflecting the value of the materials they own as their self. This new order where people start to represent the brands more than their selves erases individuality. The characters in the works mock this facade of social norms and expectations by concretising that humour and irony are the keys to happiness for an individual living in today's society.


The humorous elements in Çebi's work are supported by the blending of unfinished-like touches to work combined with a childlike demeanour. The boundaries between memory, past reality and imagination are questioned by themes such as the mundaneness of city life, the lack of love, the superficiality of the digital world presented through social media, and the exploration of fluid gender identities. The circular faces that appear in practically all of the artist's works remind us of the cameras that are a part of modern city life and that monitor and record us at all times, as well as the celestial bodies such as the sun, and the moon, which are the sources of day and nightlife.


Self-Discovery (2020) reminds us of Hamlet's "to be or not to be" monologue on life, with Çebi's character holding the skull in their hand, similar to the scene in the cemetery as an image. Although at one point, this scene was used by Shakespeare to create instant comedy in tragedy, this monologue about the futility of life overwhelms its humorous content. In parallel, for Çebi, the discovery of the essence of life begins with the understanding of oneself.


In his work titled Void-1 (2022), Çebi explores the desire to be a key figure in society as well as the fear of becoming a secondary character; using the legendary Vogue magazine as a reference, the work explores how fame and being a significant person can become a societal preoccupation. Çebi addresses the never-ending search for meaning in today's world at one point in Void-1; the work also exhibits parallelism with humans who become brands, remove their identity, and turn to the product to fill the void inside.


"Baby on Board" (2023) explores adulthood and living in today's fast-paced society. Beyond the painting, the artist conveys the immaturity many feel in this continuously ever-changing environment. While Çebi's characters deal with the burdens and the responsibilities that life throws at them, they appear to be blissfully ignorant of what they are doing at one point. In a world where "adults" are at the wheel and direct their lives, seemingly having complete control over their lives, these characters, unconscious of the facts, give the appearance that a baby is in the driver's seat.


"Oops!" (2019), delivers a one-of-a-kind and unnerving depiction of a typical day in consumer society. At first glance, it represents a divine doomsday, with smiling demonic creatures on burning skeletons and a hellscape against a blue sky. Theinclusion of McDonald's boxes on the floor, on the other hand, transforms the piece into a remark on the impact of a consumer society on daily life.


"Pawn" (2023) is a Çebi-language rendition of the chess game, which dates back to before times. Although pawns appear to be the most worthless component on the game board at first glance, in the hands of someone who knows, they can become part of the most valuable games. Çebi's pawns have new faces that differ from conventional pawns; as an unknown variable, these pawns have the possibility to checkmate both sides of the game.


Melih Çebi's "Baby on Board" exhibition will be on view at Pilot Gallery until April 22.

Coming soon...
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