onur gülfidan

onur gülfidan

cosmic tale
21.01 - 04.03.2017

Paintings beyond truth*

Onur Gülfidan's solo show at artSümer titled “Cosmic Tale” consists of a series of paintings corresponding to the concept of “post-truth”, a word chosen by Oxford Dictionaries as the English word of 2016.

The word, although first coined in the 90s, has gained significant popularity with the important developments shaping the world politics in 2016 such as the Brexit referendum and the US elections. This concept, described by Oxford Dictionaries as the notion that truths, facts or phenomena have lost their significance in determining public opinion and that they are less effective than sentiments and beliefs, can easily be traced in Gülfidan’s paintings and their titles.

For instance, one important work in the exhibition, the “Chief”, is a characterization of dozens of administrators history has encountered - both in today’s right populist governments and in fascist regimes of the history which have become suppressed memories. The main character greets his people with an attitude - “Choose me and I shall turn this place to a amusement park!” while sliding fast in a stunt car with his bodyguards running after him trying to catch up with his speed. An inflated red balloon superseding the head of the chief can be interpreted as promises distant from truth, sonorous emotional rhetoric or hollow words that mobilize masses with their charm. With his stature and uniform, the executive’s easing attitude to his followers creates such a pleasing and dizzying wind that the hair and suits of the bodyguards flit with it.

One of the most distinguishing features of Onur Gülfidan's 15 years of painting career is his colorful and multi-character universe mostly fueled by popular culture. Sometimes heroes of famous tales or popular cartoon characters and sometimes the unknown figures of his own tales have tried to tell brand new stories to the viewers. We come across a series of this kind, in his recent solo exhibition titled “Cosmic Tale”. Batman injured at a train crash while trying to save Snow White, Pinocchio gazing at the garter of an attractive woman with pure adoration, Angry Birds greeting one of the members of Ku Klux Klan, Alice having 5 o’clock tea at a historical building waiting to either collapse or become a five-star-hotel, Hansel and Gretel walking in the forest led by Japanese cartoon character Psychopass or Rapunzel waiting for her knight in the desert are the characters of known tales while a melancholic nurse with goose head gloves, a couple sunbathing without considering the screams of Godzilla under the shade of war crafts or a little girl in sleepwear with eagles flying in her mind are fictional characters from Gülfidan’s own tales.

The common point of all whether they are familiar or not, is the existence of spooky details that are scattered throughout the composition. Looking at the paintings, a series of disturbing questions such as “Will this innocent-looking, red-cheeked nurse with a white uniform hurt a patient with goose gloves? Will Godzilla crash the aircraft with a head move? Will the rabbit watching Alice at the window conspire against her? Will the little girl with flying eagles in her mind have a terrible life?” rush through your head. This exhibition might be a productive exercise to struggle with a bunch of questions whose answers are probably unknown to even Gülfidan, and to think how the answers correspond in today’s life described as the post-truth.

*Text by Rumeysa Kiger