"Step by Step" is at once a sequel to "At Full Cock" and an exhibition where I tackle a new topic: Cyprus.
I first heard the name of the island in the summer of 1974. The Turkish Army had made a landing on the island. That summer, we had blackouts in Ankara and throughout the country. I went with my father to the stationary shop in the neighbourhood to buy dark blue wrapping paper, which until then I had never used for any reason other than to cover my notebooks. And with this paper we covered the headlights of our family car. We also placed the paper over several windows of the house. Because all the lights of the city were dimmed, the stars seemed shinier in the cloudless August sky. On a black-and-white TV with a single channel, the news bulletins covered nothing but the landing and the ongoing war next door.
The radio played anthems. Back then, too young to grasp everything, I observed these events from a certain distance.
Between 1987 and 1990, I started to use these dark blue wrapping papers in my work. I believe this paper works both to cover things and underline, disclose, point to details. Furthermore, the colour blue has a symbolic quality, alluding to something spiritual, unearthly. As an art student, I found myself reading Giotto and Yves Klein. I found out that they painted windows, especially factory windows blue in France during WWII, and that this measure is known as the "blue passive defense" (bleu défence passive).
1974 Night, 1989-2013
Old Horizon, 2011
Many years later, in January 2011, I travelled to Cyprus for the first time following an invitation to a workshop. During this and subsequent stays on the island, I revisited the geography of my childhon memories, one of the key issues in my work, and the use of this blue wrapping paper.
"Step by Step" has the character of an impression from the questions I posed concerning the history and people of the island during my visits to Cyprus.
"Step by Step" is an installation comprising four photographs, five further pieces and an intervention in the large window of the venue. Two of the four photographs, namely The Old Horizon and UN Playground denote the divided state of the island and bear traces of the last years of war. They refer to a history that might rather be forgotten.
The other two 1974 Night and Fly Yellow shed light on the history of my art and my relationship with painting. A societal archetype, Amputated is an installation of five pairs of polyester legs, from the knees down.
Within the framework of the "Step by Step" exhibition, Amputated is a metaphor for the Cypriot people. It may be taken to refer to life in Turkey and to the world in its widest sense. How long a future do we have on these lands? Filtered through the large window covered with dark blue wrapping paper, the light washes the exhibition hall. For most people, the style was minimal. Personally, the term minimal reminds me of a historical burden too heavy to handle. To define this exhibition, if also the others, I'd rather use other adjectives: simple, plain, stark or lean.