I was told this is how it goes… “Politics in a corporate world is as important as the work you do. Performing well definitely is not enough. If the only thing you do is to perform well, don’t expect people to notice it and reward it; you will be disappointed. You need to promote your work to the right people. You need to get on well with everybody –even if you don’t like them- Be a poker face, do not show your emotions too much, do not react to everything instantly, wait for a strategic time to react, to make a move. Be smart about your steps. Be smart about who you talk to and how you talk to them.”
As a super enthusiastic person with my facial expressions reflecting any emotion that I have, I thought I could only manage in the corporate world with a little too much Botox at first. I have come to experience and accept that corporate world is a jungle that people are changing sides and playing mind games everyday. Maybe it’s a little bit of an exaggeration for the comparatively lighter world that I choose to be in but on a harshness scale of 1-10, we are all in a jungle.
So, when I first stepped in at Tayfun Gülnar’s Chromofobia at x-ist, the first piece that stroke me was the one below, reminding me of my everyday corporate jungle.
Just that morning, I was consoling a colleague who were crying and complaining that she should have known better whom to trust at work. While trying to calm her down, I was thinking about what to say and how to avoid not to be unfair to anyone because everybody’s right in their own perspective. No one is completely right or wrong as no one can be completely good or completely evil. This is the idea that lies in the middle of Tayfun Gülnar’s exhibition. People see, perceive, define “the other side” as “bad”, while “the other side” completely does the same. Our perceptions of good and bad, right and wrong are subjective. Say, an Erdoğan or a Trump supporter can see himself/herself completely well meaning and righteous while a CHP supporter or a democrat would think completely the opposite. Tayfun Gülnar’s story is not about individuals per se, he focuses on destruction of masses through only painting in black and white and a little bit of blue. (Chromofobia in fact means aversion to colors, disgust of certain colors in particular.) The artist says as people, we create injustice together. Somebody’s victim becomes another’s hangman.
The artist is interested in war history. He paints these very detailed war scenes -which you might find familiar- with unknown characters. The most fascinating thing fact I found out about Tayfun’s way of working was that Tayfun doesn’t start off paintings with sketches, even the very large canvases. He says he always has a fluid image of the whole scene in his mind. He starts painting the middle of the canvas with these images in his mind and adds every little detail in time, expanding to the edge of the canvas. While he is wondrously spontaneous in this respect, his story in the exhibition is very well thought (and for a long time I would guess), carefully planned, layered and follows a path by taking the viewer more and more inside the story.
The exhibition is divided into series of three: “Eternal Cycle”, “Invasion” and “Demolish”. All tell different but interrelated stories. The artist says we can imagine the stories like a ruler starting from zero. You can see it in the painting above (Eternal Cycle Series, Eternal Cycle V)), a white background, “the perceived good”, then gets darker and finally ends in black background, “the perceived bad”. In fact, “the ruler” continues with another painting placed right next to Eternal Cycle V, that pictures death and (to me), ends even darker.
The world of Chromofobia kind of swallows the viewer as we step further inside the gallery. This is almost a reluctant participation; the more you see, the more you question humanity, civilization, the society you live in, in a darker perspective. Still, you cannot look away from these mesmerizing dark scenes. The artist plans the series in such a delicate way that when the viewer enters the gallery and sees the first painting, we are almost in a Godly position; looking down to a very complex scene from above. Then the viewer becomes a witness; the paintings in the middle of the gallery are now parallel to the viewer, as if we are almost a part of the scene if we get closer. And finally, we reach a window and watch inside… We are now actively watching “the crime scene” but not doing anything about it, therefore we become the perpetrators. The artist deliberately planned the exhibition this way because he says he wants us to wake up and understand that people get used to everything in time, and we become parts of the systems we criticize. (Recall my corporate story!) Therefore, there is no such thing as “good”, it is a perception that we hold on to make ourselves feel better.
As I said, you become a reluctant but clinging participant to this exhibition. You understand that this exhibition is a face-off with our own bad, evil, negative sides. Your awakening makes you pessimistic but you cannot look away; the paintings and their stories pull you in. “We are responsible for each silent minute in which we overlook injustice or we are in the grip of our intimidation,” says the young artist with too many in his pocket. Tayfun Gülnar’s first solo exhibition “Chromophobia” can be visited until January 27, 2018 at x-ist, Nişantaşı.
This article was originally published on Yabangee, on January 12, 2018: http://yabangee.com/chromophobia-a-face-off-with-ones-dark-side/