Friday, 20 September 2013

Taner Ceylan's Lost Paintings

Well-known for his provocative photo-realist paintings, the Istanbul-based artist Taner Ceylan (b. 1967) began his Lost Paintings Series as a contemporary exploration of the Orientalist gaze. Upsetting both Western and national master narratives, the Lost Paintings Series presents “Oriental” figures in a fascinating navigation of history, power and narrative. Esma Sultan (2012), Ceylan’s depiction of an eighteenth-century Ottoman princess renowned for her cruel disposition, draws on the empowering mythology of passionate, ruthless and assertive womanhood that characterizes accounts of her life. Deploying a male body under jewelled tulle, 1553 (2013) creates a queer image of Roxolana who, initiating the era of what is known as the Sultanate of Women, made a huge impact on the evolution of Ottoman politics and, as the chief minister to the Sultan, played a crucial role in the Empire’s external and internal affairs. Recovering and drawing together forgotten legacies and silenced voices in a brilliantly imagined new setting, ten paintings in Ceylan’s series invite the viewer to look behind the veil of Orientalism and the politics of representation. Rather than offering a corrective, the artist amalgamates irony, playfulness and realism to recast Orientalism as heterogeneous and susceptible to negotiation, contestation and even subversion.

Collaborating with Serkan Delice (UAL) and Wendy Meryem Kural Shaw (Universitaet Bern), neyt Çakırlar co-authored the artist’s monograph The Lost Paintings, which is to be published in September 2013 on the occasion of Ceylan’s solo exhibition at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York.


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