DikbaI brings a flow of ideas to new Gallery Tankut Aykut

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Istanbul-based artist NazIm Hikmet Richard DikbaI’s third solo exhibition “Ileri GitmeyelimUnprogressive Soul,” consisting of some of his trademark portrait drawings, can be seen at a new gallery in the city’s Galata neighborhood, Gallery Tankut Aykut.

Spread across the white brick walls of the gallery space, there is an unadorned harmony in DikbaI’s drawings in just black and white or red and white. The minimalistic space highlights the drawings even more, making one want to go closer and explore every detail of the faces they feature. Having so many fine details, micro lines and little features the naked eye may even fail to see, the drawings seem almost animate so much so that one feels they will come alive any moment and speak the words written underneath many of the portraits. Moreover, the characters are captured in such a natural way that they seem to be sharing a moment of our lives.

Many of the portraits are accompanied by text, mostly stand-alone sentences, which makes the viewer wonder about the situations the subjects are in, or if they are mere aspects of the artist’s imagination. That’s why the drawings of this exhibit almost seem to speak, and the visitor is encouraged to contemplate and explore further. Some of the text accompanying the portraits elicits new questions from the viewer. For instance, a portrait of a woman has a caption that reads, “History will judge us not by how much we have worked, but how much we have played.” There are many other such examples that open a totally new dimension of questioning because we are not given the context in which these sentences were articulated. In that sense, one can say that the exhibition has a very philosophical stance.

Visitors are given Virgil’s quotation, “On all sides round horror spread wide the very silence breathed a terror on my soul,” as guidance on how to interpret the exhibition, which reminds us that although there are so many words, ideas, empty phrases and simple chit chat in this compilation of portraits, we are in silence except for the sounds of the city coming from outside, creating a subtle background to all this chatter. After reading this quotation, standing in the middle of the exhibition space one feels surrounded by an incessant flow of ideas. We are again reminded that the sounds of people, the voices in our brains never stop. We have to embrace this fact and take this opportunity to witness a flow of ideas given to us by the artist. The show’s introductory text explains it with these words: “To read someone else’s mind, to hear, out of the silence, a comprehensible flow of thoughts as if one was tuning into a radio station, or to read, real-time, sentences only just forming as if to focus on a page of a book, is an attractive fantasy, all the more so because it seems, for some reason, achievable.”

DikbaI’s portraits can, in that sense, be interpreted as part of an experiment. Among the enormous number of people we encounter in a day, a month, a year or a lifetime among the countless words and sentences these people utter among the millions of bits of information and pieces of knowledge traveling around the planet every minute, what do we hear? What is it that makes us decide and choose one over another? How many of the faces we have seen do we remember, or how quickly do we forget them? What is it that makes us not forget when we cannot forget a face, or a sentence? The exhibition text states: “As one spends more time involved in such an experiment, it becomes increasingly clear that this is not a cartographical project applied to a fixed space, but an act of many, variable dimensions to which the eye and ear that attempt to recognize distances, detect similarities and list headings, refrains and patterns inevitably become part of.”

These “variable dimensions” invite us into a moment of immobility. This flow of ideas beautifully creates a space of stillness where the portrait characters and their words surround us. We are given a chance to take it all in, to process and to reflect. In that way, it is also more of a meditation. DikbaI makes us look — really look — into the faces of others and hear them. He has us pick up from wherever they left off in their sentence and connect it to the next face, and then to the next face. He hints to us of his intention with the Turkish title of his exhibition “Ileri Gitmeyelim,” which can be literally translated as, “Let’s not go forward.” He wants us to stop the non-stop, ever-changing plans for the future and focus on right here, right now.

“Ileri GitmeyelimUnprogressive Soul” is on display until April 19 at Gallery Tankut Aykut. For more information, visit: tankutaykut.com.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)