Galerist (Istanbul) and Galeri Nev (Ankara) propose a solo presentation of the works of the exceptional Turkish artist, photographer, architect, collage artist,believer and negator EROL AKYAVAŞ (Istanbul, 1932 – İIstanbul, 1999) for the Spotlight section of Frieze New York, 2020.
Our presentation focuses on the “icons” by the artist made between the years 1967-1975 that allow the viewer to explore the roots of the thinking and the creative processes of Akyavaş. Encyclopeadic drawings, collages made of clippings from medicine and history books; philosophers, queens, guns, beads and stones: byzantium treasure chests built with castle walls that carry organs, portray traces of the artists’ multiple identities. These iconic boxes are projections of the extensive body of work of the artist who has been better known for his paintings from the 1980’s and the 90’s.
Akyavaş is known for his quest in painting of “interpretations of the ways by which the human mind makes sense of the universe”. Exploration lies at the root of interpretation. Akyavaş is concerned with what can and can not be deciphered by looking but by sensing. Maps of ancient cities, geometric and mystic spaces that resemble archaeological excavations are the fictive sites where Akyavaş arrives at and builds as a result of his exploration process. The walls and bridges of these sites brace those that appear in the minds eye. The artist employs the same archaeological curiosity to time with his body to that he does a site with his mind.The bleeding, wounded, drawn and sewn pieces of body parts sheltered within the icons evoke divinity and mortality simultaneously, timeless. The beautiful and the beastly, the real and fantastic, blessed and cursed are all held together within these boxes which the artist constructed down to their finest details including their frames. An attentive eye can discern by looking at Akyavaş’s oeuvre, how these artisanal boxes have served as treasure chests which he consulted piece by piece in constructing each of his future works.
Erol Akyavaş always stated how he preferred a disabled left hand over an adeptright hand; and his resilient statement finds resonance only and absolutely within these pieces. They are not his daily reveries but his nightly visions. The icons truly embody the belief system of his devout, negator character. As a writer has once said; they are the “passe-partout’s” within the body of work Akyavaş has yielded.