Studies in Contrast: Ahmet Doğu İpek at Arter, Kaya Genç, δημοσίευση στο Art in America [22/9/2022]Marilena Pateraki
Ahmet Doğu İpek’s current show, “A Halo of Blackness Upon Our Heads” at Arter in Istanbul, conveys his fascination with the intersections of natural and man-made materials. İpek is famed for his site-specific installations: In Soupir (2019), sited within an Ottoman-era mansion, he played with the parquet floor tiles to imagine how nature could overtake culture, creating the uncanny illusion of a green mound rising up through the floor. Similar concerns emerge in his “Roots” series (2019), in which he carved the roots of walnut trees to reveal stones nestled inside them.
At Arter, he presents several related bodies of work. For his “Subjected” series (2022), he has arranged for two boulders weighing nearly 2,500 and 3,300 pounds to be moved from the Anatolian town of Kütahya to the gallery space in Istanbul, where they sit on enormous white sponge “mattresses.” An encounter between natural and synthetic materials, the installation also suggests vastly different scales of time, juxtaposing artificial sponges against rocks whose formation took millennia. The boulders compress the sponges, which exist in a more active state, changing color from white to yellow during the show’s eight-month run. The “Figures” series (2021–22)is another experiment using the same component (the artist has a collection of natural and artificial stones). İpek has drawn five stones in black watercolor: they’re unique, as all rocks are, and their markings, resembling creases and wrinkles, make them read as human faces or palms; the stones’ skin-like textures seem to suggest something of their history and the forces that acted upon them, questions that have particular resonance in this city. In Istanbul, where new building sites and skyscrapers take over storied neighborhoods, and asphalt and concrete displace the ancient city’s bedrock, natural stones are becoming more rare all the time.
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