'Rope' world of Ahmet Yesil: fetters or binding threads

The exhibition of one of the leading contemporary artists of Turkey has opened in the Gallery of Modern Art

'Rope' world of Ahmet Yesil: fetters or binding threads
Photo: Maksim Platonov

The exhibition of Turkish artist Ahmet Yesil “Voices and Traces” has opened in Kazan at the Gallery of Modern Art. The “track record” of the recognised master of fine arts of Turkey has more than 200 exhibitions and 400 joint projects, but he is exhibiting in Russia for the first time.

How to express dynamics in static

The two halls of the second floor of the Modern Art Gallery are now occupied by the works of Ahmet Yesil. If for more than 40 years his works were known only in the small coastal city of Mersin, today they have travelled all over the world — from Japan to New York. He also exhibited in the near abroad — Azerbaijan and Georgia, but his paintings have come to Russia for the first time.

At first glance, one will not understand what exactly the artist wanted to say. Even the names of the paintings are detached — “Undated diaries”, “Fragile image”, and one work is simply called "(Don't) ask”. However, he himself admits that in combination with the static nature of the “rope” texture, he seeks to show the dynamics and variability of the world. Such a personal dualism. By the way, Ahmet Yesil admitted that for one biennale in his homeland, he made works out of ropes and strings, which he painted in different colours.

“But this is a completely different genre, it's more of an art object, and the meaning of my works is a two-dimensional image, and only your imagination can give it volume. So our emotions and impressions colour, it would seem, sometimes gray reality," the artist is sure.

For more than 40 years, the works of Ahmet Yesil were known only in the small coastal city of Mersin, today they have travelled all over the world — from Japan to New York

Prophecies and clues

Director of the State Museum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan Rosalia Nurgaleeva also saw a special message of the artist to his contemporaries:

“Despite that the works are very bright, colourful and superbly arranged compositionally, they express the artist's concerns about everything that is happening in the world today. However, if Kazimir Malevich's “Black Square”, painted a hundred years ago, reflected and was perceived as the collapse of society and the country with its culture, then hope lives in the paintings of Ahmet Yesil. First of all, we hope that together we will be able to save our planet.”

This idea is clearly reflected in the art object “Details of participation in the crime” — a lot of small squares-canvases, composed into a general picture, can be rearranged, as if playing tag. However, one place will still remain empty. Another picture that clearly reflects this idea is the blue planet, also, of course, made of ropes, but which has already given an ominous crack in the Arctic region, if we consider it as the Earth…

Modern art critics are sure that Yesil encrypts certain prophecies in his works, at the same time, giving the keys to their decoding — in images, colours and even sarcasm. The ropes themselves, which he chose as the only object for the image, can also be regarded as a joke or a little hooliganism — a whim of the creator. However, whole worlds are made up of them, it is only necessary to turn on fantasy — the ropes turn into a wave lapping up against the sand, an evening landscape, a sound track or a flower garden.

“The details of participation in the crime” are a lot of small squares-canvases, composed into a general picture, which can be rearranged, as if playing tag

Surprises from the consulate

Since the exhibition was opened on the initiative of the Turkish side, at the opening, the Consul General of Turkey in Kazan Ismet Erikan admitted that his personal collection also has works by Ahmet Yesil, and it is from the “rope” series:

“He is a wonderful artist, known all over the world. He has been painting for 42 years, of which we have known each other for 30 years. In order to unite people, to make friends, sometimes you need threads and even ropes. It was them that our artist has brought to Kazan. In general, we have planned a whole series of exhibitions in Kazan to acquaint Tatarstan residents with all the diversity of the cultural life of Turkey. In October, the Anatolian Breeze exhibition with the participation of 11 contemporary artists has already opened at the Hermitage-Kazan exhibition centre, and in the next few days we are opening open a photo exhibition at the National Museum of Tatarstan. At the same time, we try to bring our artists to the opening so that they can see Kazan in all its glory, with its turbulent cultural life. This year is already coming to an end, but I can assure you that there will be many more surprises from us next year. In general, we will bring our expositions until Kazan residents get bored," the consul joked.

Ismet Erikan admitted that in his personal collection there are also works by Ahmet Yesil, and it is from the “rope” series

“The disease destroyed dreams, guiding them on the true path”

The confirmation of the words of Ismet Erikan was the personal participation in the opening of the “hero” of the celebration. Ahmet Yesil was not stopped by the wheelchair, to which he has been bound since his student years. He was born in 1954 in the small town of Mersin.

“It took me a while to feel like an artist. At the age of 10, I painted my first painting, for which I was subjected to disciplinary measures — my teacher misunderstood the painting and decided to punish me. However, the director stood up and firmly told me — I need to study painting. In fact, I wanted to practice medicine or become a football player, but the disease crossed out all my dreams. So literally fate guided me along the path of an artist. Over time, I myself believed in my vocation. At the beginning of my creative career, I was fond of minimalism. Then I wrote a series of works on the topic of mother and child. It was this exhibition that was praised by one of the famous Turkish critics, I became recognised, and I realised that I had chosen the right path. Since then, there have been about 200 solo exhibitions, and about 400 more joint projects," said Ahmet Yesil.

Ahmet Yesil has been confined to a wheelchair since his student years

What the Turkish artist admires

Deputy Chairman of the State Council of Tatarstan Rimma Ratnikova attended the opening of the exhibition. She greeted the audience, the artist and the consul on behalf of Chairman of the Parliament of Tatarstan Farid Mukhametshin, who personally could not come to the opening of the exhibition. However, he sent a congratulatory address to the artist, in which he noted that Ahmet Yesil is one of the brightest representatives of modern Turkish art, who has long deserved recognition.

“Your works make one think about the essence of being and the infinity of the universe. You are exhibiting in Russia for the first time, and it is especially valuable that you chose Kazan for the first exhibition. This fact once again testifies to the establishment of strong friendly ties between our republics," the head of the parliament noted in particular.

Ahmet Yesil admitted that he admired the rich cultural life of Kazan residents. A few days before the opening of his own exhibition, he himself managed to visit museums and exhibition halls, where he got acquainted with the works of Baki Urmanche and Nikolay Feshin, visited the opera theatre, admired the audience's reaction to the opera “Aida”, he himself was nostalgic at a concert of neoclassics in the Great Concert Hall.

The exhibition is open until January 16, 2022.

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Anna Tarletskaya. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan