Elipsis show offers glimpse of unseen Kaygun archive.
In the press release for the show, its curator Yekhan Pynarlygil writes that the exhibition lays out the cartography of different techniques that the photographer used in his various works. "Kaygun experiments, especially with the instant Polaroid, physically, modifying the photograph by scratching, painting, even by changing the chemical structure and manipulating the emulsions. While he questions the approach toward widely accepted techniques, pushing the boundaries, Kaygun also reveals a clear indication of his views of the social and political situation of the time," Pynarlygil adds.
As a graduate of Marmara University's graphic design department, Kaygun was also interested in photography, Sinem YE[micro]rE-k, founder and director of Elipsis Gallery, explained in an interview with Today's Zaman. "During the '70s, he takes classic black-and-white photographs. In 1978, he has two shows, 'Images' and 'People of Art,' exhibiting portraits of Turkish artists. In 1980, he exhibits 'Sadness -- Reminiscences -- A Song of Anatolia.' Then in the same year, he joins Salzburg Summer Academy. In the '80s he was more interested in Polaroid photographs. Although it was used elsewhere in the world, Polaroid photography was new in Turkey," she said, noting that the International Polaroid Collection acquired many of the Polaroids he took in the '80s, which were exhibited in a show at the WestLicht Museum of Photography in Vienna in 2010. "They were exhibiting one of his works at the exhibition and I had the chance to go to the museum's storage and see the rest. It was a very special moment for me," YE[micro]rE-k added. Kaygun's works have been showcased in many exhibitions around the world, including countries like Austria, Germany, Switzerland, England, the US and Japan.
"When we look at his archive, generally he has a surreal approach," YE[micro]rE-k pointed out. "He loves to mix different techniques. This attitude leads him to continually experiment with the material. And if we think about the artistic climate of the '80s in Turkey, people were still arguing about whether photography can be considered an art form as opposed to painting while he was conducting his experiments in his darkroom," she added.
A pioneer of contemporary photography in Turkey
Asked whether he could be seen as a pioneer of contemporary photography in Turkey, YE[micro]rE-k said that was definitely the case. "In Turkey, there was no one using Polaroid photography or mixing paint and photographs. His photographer colleagues criticized him very harshly at the time, but he didn't really mind it. Of course the '80s was a very oppressive period for Turkey. He also delved into the themes of social mechanism and the oppression people have in their lives with his movies as well," YE[micro]rE-k elaborated.
He directed the critically acclaimed "Afife Jale" (1987) and "Dolunay -- Full Moon" (1988.) His movies were screened at international film festivals, including Cannes.
Kaygun suddenly died in 1992 at the age of 41 and in the same year, his book "The Notes From the Diary of a Photograph" was published. In 1993, Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism published a book with an overview of his works, titled "A Whole Life." In 2013, his work was exhibited in the ystanbul Modern Museum as part of a group show, but the majority of his works were awaiting the audience in his archive, carefully kept by his daughter Burcak Kaygun. "Since there was no Internet at the time and the material published on him is limited, the new generation doesn't really know his work. We wanted to open a door to his world. Of course, this is only one way of looking at his work; he has numerous works in the archive. Many different things can be done. We definitely want to publish a book on him," YE[micro]rE-k said.
Titled "Hidden Face," the exhibition takes its name from the fact that Kaygun's works from the '80s seem to have the common theme of a "hidden face," Pynarlygil writes in the press release. "Previously known for his portraits, he starts hiding the faces of his models in his works. Apart from a few exceptions, flaws, imperfections and absence are clearly recurring in all his works. He also puts his experimental artistry into his works of figure; he carves the faces, covers them with drapes, sometimes vague and blurred or even cut out of the faces. As we investigate further, we somehow get lost in these hidden figures. It is not known if Kaygun's choices are deliberate or triggered by the subconscious."
"Hidden Face" will run at Elipsis Gallery in the KarakE[micro]y area until Nov. 2. There will be also a panel on the artist led by the curator on the last day of the show, together with the launch of the gallery's new book on Kaygun. The location of the panel will be announced on the gallery's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN
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