Fons Welters - Amsterdam
26 FEBRUARY - 02 APRIL 2005
'Visiona Teorema' is the first solo exhibition by Yesim Akdeniz Graf (born in Izmir, 1978) at Galerie Fons Welters. She studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf and worked for two years at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Her work has already been exhibited at 'Deutschemalereizweitausenddrei' (Kunstverein Frankfurt, 2003) and '20/20 Vision' (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2004).
This exhibition of nine new paintings is like a succession of different scenes in a film. Some images are recognisable as landscapes or interiors, whilst others are more representative of a psychological state of mind. The title indicates an important source of inspiration for these works: Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema (1968). In this film, a stranger enters the lives of a bourgeois family and, one by one, sleeps with every member of the family, plus the housekeeper, only to disappear just as suddenly as he arrived. After encountering the stranger - Messiah or Satan - each of the family members finds their life taking a dramatic turn. The daughter ends up in a clinic; the mother goes on a constant search for young men; and the father retreats to the desert. The son devotes himself to abstract painting.
Akdeniz Graf's paintings represent moments of crisis and transition. In her work, the role of the stranger is played by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the father of modern architecture. She depicts Wright's La Miniatura (1923) in Pasadena, California, one of the first houses built in concrete, standing on a rock decorated with grotesque jewels, gleaming in the moonlight. Just as Wright's approach changed the world of architecture in a radical way, his modern style penetrates the visual cultures that Akdeniz Graf draws upon in her work. A diagrammatic representation of one of Wright's façades appears within a drab interior, in a fresco of heavenly bliss that looks like it's come straight from a Chinese restaurant. In Creed (2004), Wright's clear, geometric ornamentation forms the basis of a semi-circular Art-Deco-style leaded-glass window. The nauseating green image unfurls like a peacock's tail, dazzling, threatening and alluring, with a perverse gleam of mother-of-pearl blue and pink in the centre.
Modernism is one of the mysteries in 'Visiona Teorema'. And just as in all of Antonioni's films there's always a moment when a factory appears on the screen - a metaphor for the neurosis of modernity - a dreary landscape with factory chimneys also features in this series of paintings. 'Visiona Teorema' is a psychedelic vision of the terrifying moment when a worldview topples.
One of the paintings shows a combination of three logos: Wright's previously mentioned façade, a stylised diagram of Akdeniz Graf's own forest landscapes and a nine-pointed star, which in Gurdjieff's esoteric theories symbolises the development of human nature. Gurdjieff is like the strange visitor in Pasolini's work. Probably originally from Armenia, he appeared in Russia shortly before the First World War and revealed himself to be a charismatic leader, claiming to have gathered his knowledge of human nature in remote monasteries. A circle of followers formed around him. The Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man propagated his teachings, initially in Tbilisi, and later, in the 1930s, in Paris. Akdeniz Graf's combination of diagrams is not completely unfamiliar: one of Gurdjieff's followers was the second wife of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dominic van den Boogerd