2011 EMRE ZEYTİNOĞLU / What Can A Painting Accomplish?
  Simple Present Tense Exhibition Catalog, January 2011


Michel Foucault, interpreting René Magritte’s paintings titled “Ceci n’est past une pipe” has written: “We truly have a tendency to claim that 'this is a pipe’ whenever we see the picture of a pipe.”Actually, this problematic concerning the art of painting had pretty much dominated the aesthetics field of the 19th century. Many things have been written about how a picture (a material) associated with an object created an underlying illusion and how this situation created a world of meaning. For example, Arthur Schopenhauer thought it was significant that people who saw certain layers of paint claimed that what they saw was the same thing as a known object. That’s because, in this way, those people conceived the nature, standing in front of a “bulk of paint” and experienced the distance between the senses and the ideas and the realism of the picture was as miraculous as it was able to convey “the true nature of things.”

Seçil Erel’s paintings seem to be loaded with certain architectural details within this context. The spectator viewing those paintings feels as if he/she is envisioning the steel constructions of those huge skyscrapers that he/she may encounter in a modern city any instant and the freeways extending towards the horizon. These paintings seem to be supported with a spacing and light revealing even the slightest details of those constructions. In other words, these paintings remind us of the depictions of cliché objects surrounding all around us. On the other hand, if we think about the problematic of the 19th century, what we see are nothing more than some layers of paint and are compositions at the end. Moreover, they are probably nothing more than composition and seeing those pictures as architectural details is a tendency on our part to liken things to each other.   

No matter what the underlying idea is or no matter how it is represented, is directly making a composition. Compositions are nothing more than framing some coordinates. What is a frame or a frame of what? Which whole of the coordinates entering the frame belong to? All these questions are answered the same way by the scientist, philosopher and the artist: Material cross sections (can be perceived by the senses) extracted from an eternal chaos…

The scientist, philosopher and artist travel within the wholeness of the universe holding a frame in their hands. Their goal is to place that piece they extracted from the chaos inside that frame and to jump into this world. They must locate such coordinates in that frame that they are able to present some “thing” that is capable of delivering us the eternity. A mathematician delves into calculations, philosopher struggles with the concepts and the artist creates forms. They all intend to place consistent coordinates in their frames and that point of consistency is the “holistic cosmology.”

Of course, frames are seen as planes. Or if we were to state it the other way around, something that we can’t observe as a plane can not be a frame. Just like the plane of painting… if a composition has been located on the upper level of the painting plane, this is so that we can see it. On the other hand, the coordinates of an eternal chaos (even though we’re seeing them on a plane) can not be just a plane. Under these circumstances, we must think: In that case, that plane has many levels that go deeper and deeper and create that composition on the upper level. The plane we see is actually a composition process and this way, that frame has also gotten to include the concept of time. However, the layers of the composition do not rise based on consecutive times. Each of these layers make the other come to life and the transition between the layers can even be viewed from the top layer. That’s because the top layer of the painting plane never consists solely of the top layer. That top layer that can only be seen for a “moment” in the “present tense” exists upon the transition between all those previous layers (as a process transformed into a plane) and that’s where the composition lies.  

No matter what, a composition creates no changes in our sensory perceptions and we can perceive it only as the other objects in the world. What stands in front of us is no different than anything that is “seen.” However a composition has a sense transferred to us from the “holistic cosmology” with those transitions between the layers and the overlap between the process and the present tense. Then, an artist’s problem can not be encountering chaos. The problem an artist faces can only be taking a part within these clichés (the problem is the “meaning synonymous with the object”) That’s why the artists starts to fight against the chaos just like the scientist and philosopher but not in order to rid of it but rather to include it in his composition… Or in order to effuse a part of that chaos onto the material layers (maybe even cliché images) he/she has loaded on his/her canvas.  As Deleuze and Guattari states: “Since the painting seem to be full of clichés at first sight, the artist has to fight the chaos and hasten the destruction in order to create a perception that challenges all clichés.Art is not chaos but it is a composition conveying the vision and perception [feel] of chaos.”

If we are to look at Seçil Erel’s paintings again after these, we can witness how certain things from this “holistic cosmology” have diffused into these “visible” forms. These paintings, which brings modern urban architecture first, gets into a struggle against this architecture that they have placed on their foundations. The concerning architecture, which is claimed to have been designed in accordance with “humanistic goals” evidence that the “second nature” has been created. This problem of second nature has been one of the main subjects of both philosophy and aesthetics since Hegel and Marx. As people came out victorious in the struggles they give against the nature and as they alienate the nature from its essence and transform it under the domination of the production system, they have also altered the “naivety” of the relationship between the humans and the nature. Now, if we have a nature that we see in our modern cities, it is these constructions.

Classical architecture was looking for its constructions in the coordinates it obtained from the nature itself. While doing that, he looked out for the expediency of each part or organ as an extension of the fundamental principles of nature and was shaped; leaving anything that had no benefit or purpose out. Then, the classical architecture was not a representation of nature but rather (in Schopenhauer’s words) a reflection of its conceptualization. If Seçil Erel’s paintings are frames entwined among modern urban constructions (or if we consider them to be so as a result of our habits), these are the frames of the coordinates selected out of this "second nature"... A conceptualization of the "second nature" most probably... Clearly, as long as these paintings conceptualize the “second nature,” they diffuse something from the chaos and are directed towards a “holistic cosmology” based on its feel. From this stage on, no matter what those forms are likened to (an architectural composition maybe), they now reveal those clichés aside and reveal the coordinates of chaos. What more can a painting accomplish?

On the other hand, when these paintings, which are perceived as modern urban clichés at first sight, start to embody the chaos, personal requests regarding the artist are revealed. While talking about her own paintings, Seçil Erel indicates that certain objects, voices (these are mostly music tracks) or persons evoke certain colors and those colors enter the painting by itself. This is naturally the full measure of an artist’s intuitivism: This is the artist connecting with mathematics without the help of the scientist and connecting with philosophy without the help of the philosopher. One thing is for sure, an artist does not make art with the aid of science or philosophy. Art does not need such props (and they don't need art either). Intuitivism is the only dynamic of art. In this sense, the relationships established by Seçil Erel between objects-people-sounds-colors are a highly artistic “way of feeling.” These “ways of feeling” may be developed based on fabrications or abstractions. Still, they are highly beneficial for jumping from one location to another (for example for making a leap from art to science or philosophy… Or for penetrating from a real entity to another).

Intuitivism is the main ingredient of conceptualization and is highly necessary for creating wholes. Moreover we also must not forget the scientific aspect of the relationships between objects-sounds-persons, other than fabrications and conceptualizations. For example, presenting the relationships established between colors and sounds based on the wavelengths or the psychological unison of certain conceptualizations and colors is an old information… These are all unities forming the pure attributes of human existence and Seçil Erel’s paintings are all unisons created by intuitivism and their compositions.

No matter what they evoke, these painting are the struggle given by the artist against chaos itself. Let me ask once more: What more can a painting accomplish?