Murat Akagündüz's exhibition Vertigo brings together 13 paintings from the Kaf series. In this new series the artist depicts some of world's highest mountain peaks as seen on Google Earth. How is the act of painting transformed once we rely upon the mediation of digital data to depict an actual physical landscape? The exhibition thus refers to the ontological consequences of such digital mediation in our relationship to the Earth and its implications in terms of vision and image production. While the series, named after the Kaf Mountain, emphasises a mythological narrative, each painting in the Kaf series takes its title from the latitude and longitude values defining the position of the images on Google Earth. Akagündüz offers us views over the peaks of the Alpide Belt, spreading across three continents, and provides us with the coordinates of the Kaf Mountains at the same time.
In juxtaposing mathematical exactitude with the perceptually challenging monochromatic use of the colour white, Akagündüz's intention is to explore the minimal conditions of visual representation. The Kaf series, in its search for a language using different shades of white, winnows down the minimal conditions of pictorial representation to a bare-bones relationship between light and shade and approaches the threshold of visual perception. In the Kaf paintings, the line of the horizon is either invisible or it escapes the eye by merging with the upper corner of the canvas. Adopting a satellite view of the Earth the paintings represent a vertical, groundless perspective.
As the horizon is nowhere to be found, our sense of being grounded in space is unsettled and a sense of vertigo sets in. This vertigo effect is also echoed in the spatial construction of the exhibition through a subtle intervention on the walls delineating the first floor of Arter.
The Kaf paintings bring the process of emergence of image to the eye and to memory, between appearance and disappearance, through reverberations in time. At first sight, these appear to be abstract fragments that are difficult to read in terms of their relationships of scale to the reality they were cut off from. The even distribution of light on the entire surface and its movements through various shades of white, by evading the eye, catch and hold the gaze. The stains, which slip away and alter the moment we think we have caught an image, are contiguous with the void and create a silent space of tension.
Vertigo denotes the dizziness and loss of balance felt when a subject or the objects surrounding them appear to be moving in space. As reflected through Murat Akagündüz' Kaf series, vertigo is a relational phenomenon, it points both to a spatial disorientation on psychological and physiological levels, and to an uncertainty regarding subject-object relationships as perceived within space. By opening up a space for silent contemplation, the paintings invite the viewer to sense the new possibilities found in this loss of ground and thus produce a new perception of the world.
(from the series Kaf)
Oil on canvas
200 x 150 cm