RUMEYSA – Artist Mehmet Dere brings together the worlds of politics and a teenager

Artist Mehmet Dere brings together the worlds of politics and a teenagerIzmir-based artist Mehmet Dere is currently presenting his work in two complementary solo exhibitions in IzmirCollectively titled andldquoBut Now,andrdquo the exhibitionand#39s two parts are on view simultaneously at the Input Output (IO)ontemporary art initiativeand#39s exhibition space and at 49A, another initiative founded by Dere himself.One of the collections delves into the fearful world of a teenager through the aentures of a superhero character, and the other features the artistand#39s take on the famous sacks of free coal distributed by the Turkish government to poor families as an election investment.

The two are directly linked to each other in terms of the concept of time — one is about the past, while the other is about the future, the artist explained in a recent interview with Todayand#39s Zaman.His drawings of the comic book character Conan, created when he was a student in high school, make up the first part of the show, while the second series includes his recent works that can be taken as a psychological inner reading.

andldquoOne is a world in war and the other is its reflection in our eyes. I called the show andlsquoBut Nowand#39 because we use this phrase when there is a time difference or some sort of transition [between two stages],andrdquo Dere said.

Conan, as a symbolic warrior figure, is closely related to Dereand#39s autobiographic art practice. andldquoIt was very popular back then [when I was in high school] and I was nourished by comic books during my childhood.

They are capable of presenting both a visual and a fantasy world at once. I used to argue a lot [about my comic books] with my dad since I was collecting them and he used to see them as garbage.

Frank Frazetta and Sal Buscema were among the comic book artists that I admired the most. I specifically was into line shadings and my obsession with line shadings in my drawings is based on these comics,andrdquo Dere said.

andldquoandlsquoCrom, count the dead!and#39 is a catchphrase from the Conan comic books. Iand#39ve hidden that phrase in a chart featuring all the letters of the alphabet.

While all the other letters in the chart represent the things unsaid, that single sentence depicts the outer reality,andrdquo Derer explained.The artist considers his drawings to be the reactions of a child who refuses to grow up.

andldquoI hated growing up. I felt so safe in my own world with my own reality, but the outer world is not like that, unfortunately.

It is very wild and it feeds on blood. When I look at my recent works, I see that I tackle the concept of an unseen authority.

Authority enables its existence through its invisibility. When I say authority, I donand#39t only mean political power, but all the ridiculous things that pressure me in my own reality.

These could be the internalized realities of the art market, standard production models or things we [artists] know about but never discuss. What inspires me in my work is to think about this state of war and pushing the boundaries,andrdquo Dere added.

He recalled finding a notebook in his old home that was full of figures continuously fighting, as if they were stuck in Middle-earth, but do not know what they are fighting against. andldquoThe fact that it is a notebook takes me back to my previous creative practice working on a notebook as if it were [an art] class brings the artwork into existence as though it were a personal diary,andquot he said.

andldquoIand#39m in a continuous fight in which I try to realize myself through boring holes and finding words and concepts against laws. This exhibition is a result of acknowledging and exploring these autobiographical connections.

There is a situation that stems from fear rather than worry in these drawings that I made as a child,andrdquo he added.As for the other part of the show, Dere said he chose to explore the sacks of free coal distributed to the poor in Turkey as a metaphysical conundrumandldquoI started to see those sacks everywhere — for example it was being used as a garbage bag in a construction area The image stuck in my mind [and] those packs were printed andlsquopara ile satIlamazand#39 [meaning, andlsquonot for saleand#39].

andrdquoIn his series, Dere combines several concepts frequently used by politicians in Turkey, including andldquomilletandrdquo (nation), andldquozilletandrdquo (mortification), andldquoilletandrdquo (malady), andldquotemsilandrdquo (representation), andldquoarandrdquo (sense of shame) and andldquoparalelandrdquo (parallel), with the andldquonot for saleandrdquo label on the sacks.The phrase andldquopara ile satIlamazandrdquo that he uses on his canvases refers both to the search of welfare in the country, and the invisible authorities that influence the contemporary art market on a psychological level.

andldquoThe label is like a riddle on the gray surface of the work, waiting to be discovered. The concepts of money and not being for sale are about the fact that the capitalist reality cannot feed itself, meaning it consumes much more energy than it requires.

andrdquoandldquoBut Nowandrdquo is on display until March 29. For more information about the artist, visit www.

mehmetdere.com and io-nonprofitartspace.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman