Toygun Özdemir GOLDEN AGE

08/01/2022 - 05/02/2022

Öktem Aykut

Golden Age by Toygun Özdemir takes place at Öktem Aykut from January 8th until February 5th, 2022. Comprised of 8 same size new paintings, Golden Age is Özdemir’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.

"Long after my grandfather passed away, purely by chance I found about fifty to sixty small-size photographs of his, most of them dated on the back. After a while, I realized that the photographs showed the events and locations where some of the scattered stories he used to tell me had taken place. Over time, thanks to the notes on the back, I realized that I could re-construct these chronologically. Finally, a story emerged.

A team of about twenty people built a ship called ‘Tatvan’ in the Van Lake between 1948 and 1955 and finally succeeded in floating it. Alongside this process, we can also observe in the photographs the social facilities that get set up, the transformation of the landscape. A football team is formed. You can see friendships evolving between men and women. For example, they go rowing together. At the risk of over-reading it, I think it is possible to see the construction of modernity in every sense through these photographs. You can also see how the community there is
related to this situation. They exude a kind of pride in creating something out of nothing, of creating added value. I wanted to make a series of paintings about this, both to try to see beyond the visible aspects, and to ask questions such as, 'How were things before?’ and ‘Where are we today?’. There is also a symbolic approach in the paintings, where the state is imagined as a shackled Leviathan, and society as a separate force pulling at its chains.

The image of Leviathan, the sea monster, seemed very appropriate to me as a unifying figure. I started to tell a story
with the scenes I took from the photographs. It would comprise eight canvases. First, I made a simple clay model. There was a castle, a wild-looking sea monster, and red electrical wires, as a metaphor for the monster’s fire. I prepared the model to serve as a backdrop for the scenes selected from the photographs, and to guide me while painting. I found it very useful. I think that making such methodical changes from time to time also makes things more exciting. I also tried to switch the direction of the brush according to the adventure of the monster. For example, I painted some parts with my left hand to feel that tension myself, and to communicate that shift to the viewer. In the paintings, we see different versions of the beast in the background. In one scene we see him unshackled, in another he is spewing fire. In another, he quietly watches from underwater. Around him are these little human beings and their efforts throughout this big endeavor. The title of the series is ‘The Golden Age’.”

Born in 1986 in İzmir, Toygun Özdemir completed his bachelor’s degree in painting at Mimar Sinan University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Based in İstanbul since then, Özdemir’s previous solo exhibitions are: “Complete Paintings” (2016); “Stranger” (2017); the solo presentation at Miart fair (2018, Milan) and “Happy-Go-Lucky” (2019).

Coming soon...
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