The project entitled “o--o--o--o” interprets four of the allegories depicted in the text “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk. Despite setting the story in 16th century Istanbul, Pamuk refers to contemporary conflicts of faith between eastern axioms and western aspects of modernity. In the chapter “I am a Tree”, one of the miniaturists proves that painting a tree forms the pinnacle of artistic mastery and is a testimony to an artist’s style. “Illumination and Time” recounts how perspective sparked the conflict between traditional schools of painting and modern techniques, or a dissonance between a linear spatial perception of time. Yet another miniaturists proclaims his views in “Blindness and Memory” of how everything tends towards blackness and how painting itself is a constant reminder of the existence of darkness. The chapter “My Name is Red” however, leaves us with the following question: what is it like to be a colour, that forms the beginning of everything in all of its entirety.
These four stories in particular, are concerned with the world of miniatures. To each one of these accounts I assigned sketches which were produced according to the Theory of Open and Closed Forms (developed by Oskar Hansen). Since Closed Form can be seen as “violent art”, its structure is characterised by domination and unchanging dogmas within its relationships – mostly through their centrality. Open Forms on the other hand, are characterised by relativity, transformation and cooperation between democratic and egalitarian decentralised structures. Due to the dissonance between these two structural forms, a sensation is created, of the coexistence of things safe and dangerous, aesthetic and representational. In light of this theory, by producing an artistic artefact, the artist does not create a closed piece of art, but forms the possibility for context and interpretation. The spectator is expected simultaneously to act as the observer and a protagonist, participating actively in forming an individual interpretation, as well requiring to create the necessary context. This freedom of interpretation characterises the development of ornament, which out of forms created throughout generations became the epitome of the purest form of artistic expression. The outline, which forms a spatial limit, contains collisions, combinations as well as mediations of the elements of ornament. Even if ornament does not have a specific and precise form, it still attains artistic value and mediates between the object and a piece of art, as well as between the spectator and the creator.
The basic feature is its unrealistic ornamentation, and mostly its totally abstract nature, which is to neglect the illustrative factor and handle with the “pure form”. The ornamental motive usually arises as a result of the daring design of the real existing form, thanks to the multiplication and relevant are hierarchy loses its individual character. Ornament is often created by the arbitrary, fanciful combination of different forms and creating new and original sets of decorative qualities. Abstract simplification arises in two ways: by geometrisation or the space organisation. Saying, that some works of art are decorative, and some of the motives belonging to the masterpiece are ornament, are derived from two different types of psychophysiology of vision. First, is a general and almost automatic acceptance, that the bunches of leaves or flowers and circles arranged in the shape of heart, are rather the decoration than a of figurative representation. The second category concerns more the manner we treat a thing, and less of what the thing really represents. Matisse’s colourful draperies or repeated in Andy Warhol's Campbell cans may be on some level of consciousness regarded as an ornament, because the transformation of these items formulates a new message, with the opposite function than they originally devoted. 4 The perception in this case regards to the harmony, which leads to the creation of the abstractive system.
The main protagonist of my depictions is the arabesque, which has become for me the key in understanding the similarity between acquiring Franconian, that is western methods of perspective drawing and the shading techniques of the Ottoman miniaturists – and the autonomous development of traditional arabesques into Modern art. Within the arabesque two constant elements can be singled out: on one hand a vigorous interpretation of flora (leaves, stems and flowers); on the other the perfect use of line, which gave rise to the fundamentals of the arabesque: apparent fantasy, strict geometry. It is devoid of Hellenistic realism; it does not have a beginning nor an end, as it pursues the Infinite. It approaches the realm of abstract and intellectual art.
It is possible to seek parallels between the development of Arabic ornament into the floral arabesque or the woven star patterns and the move from linear abstraction into more geometric and organic tendencies. Depending on the given cultural circumstances (oriental or occidental), the arabesque developed from the floral to a more linear-abstract or even geometric form. This interplay between representational and non-representational form has not only made the arabesque an ideal paradigm for the art of the 19th century, but also a crucial medium for Modern art. Within my interpretation the arabesque is an intermediary agent between the Closed Form expressed in symbolic and representational paintings and the Open Form contained in the innumerably repeated and modified patterns sourced from these aforementioned paintings.
The narrative of my work begins with the floral elements of the painting entitled “I am a Tree”, which is a figurative depiction of nature. Constructed from a meticulously repeated tree motif, it hypnotises the observer and poses the question: does nature still exist? Intimidation and dissatisfaction in nature resulting from the latest research turns culture towards nature, meaning that nature ceases to be indeed a natural and innate backdrop to our being. It appears to be a delicate mechanism, which can escalate in any given moment towards cataclysmic directions. The act of repeating the same motif of a lone tree turns into a mechanical and at times an automatic phenomenon. This psychedelic forest is a result of the transformation of a natural organism into a manipulable and submissive object. Even though through a certain lack of precision this process does not turn the object into a forest as such, ultimately it does not deprive it of its authenticity and its status as a silent witness to history, because imperfection is in some way the essence of what we call life.
“Illumination and Time” is a classical depiction of Renaissance perspective. Analogous to Rafael Santi’s painting The Marriage of the Virgin, the composition is divided into a top and bottom part. Seen together as a whole, the two parts form a mosaic of regularly repeated simplified landscapes, which can be experienced as individual miniatures. Each part comprises of 12 paintings which reflects a mathematical harmony through numerical relationships. Their linear structure is a reference to the Continuous Linear System developed by Oskar Hansen, which was meant to form an alternative to the centralised and despotic archetype of a medieval stronghold which survived in the urban fabric of European cities. Each space within the architecture created by Hansen was meant to be egalitarian and in opposition to Closed Forms, enable further transformation. Consequently, the perspective in this case is just as in the Renaissance a symbolic form of axiality with certain departures resulting out of interpretations of Hansen’s theories.
“Blindness and Memory” discusses how art originates from and returns to the colour black, as artists try through their work to return to this primeval emptiness free from the shackles of time. The arabesque-like narration in the painting has been replaced by text, which has been the basis and main determinant of art until the 19th century. “[In the 20th century] (…) art itself developed in such a way, that philosophical questions as to its status quo have almost become its very essence. Therefore the philosophy of art expressed the outward energy of art, instead of standing outside and moving towards it from its foreign and outward perspective. Distinguishing between art and its philosophy would require currently a particular kind of effort. It seems that an artwork has become condensed into an aspect which has always been a subject of philosophical interest and has little, if anything at all, to offer for those wanting to appreciate art in terms of providing pleasure.” The blackness of the text is understood as blindness while memory is a physical aspect of time expressed through the references describing this work. The pleasure of a mechanical treatment of space builds an architectural structure within the canvas and through a lack of context enables free movement within the painting. The problems of specific motifs however, cannot be explained by depictions alone. They require a development into the realm of references.
The Closed Form is expressed through the colour red in the painting “My Name is Red”. This particular Closed Form is an expression of violence, as red is readily associated with blood, a primeval vital energy which is impossible to resist. Thus the red colour forms a background exposing the narrative as a boundary to the space as I chose to define it. The approach to the centre of the paintings is signalled by smaller elements, which could be the destination of the paintings or their conclusion. Their values are not disposed objectively, but rather begin to acquire meaning through a depth and force of the red hue. “(…) our art is, just as nature, composed from an infinite number of elements; the drawing is a skeleton, while colour is life, but life without a skeleton is more incomplete than a skeleton without life”. Johann Friedrich Herbart argued that beauty lies not only in a specific color, form or tone, but it is to be experienced, as a picture in relation to other colors, forms and tones. According to Herbart a single element is neutral and gains an aesthetic significance only in combination with another element.The colour red emerges in my paintings as a causal force, which by competing with the blue of the sky poses the question whether it possesses another meaning, besides being merely a color?