Critics’ Picks

View of “Pictures of Nothing,” 2017.

Istanbul

“Pictures of Nothing”

Pg Art Gallery
Çukurcuma Cad. No. 40/1 Firüzağa, Beyoğlu
September 9–October 7

In her 1950s manifesto, Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair made a distinction between the visible and the visual, suggesting that the latter was more complex than mere “pictures.” Conceptually informed by Choucair’s vision, perhaps more than by the 2006 book by Kirk Varnedoe that lends its name to the show, this contemporary abstraction exhibition focuses on conceptual thought rather than abstract formalism. Arie Amaya-Akkermans’s distinctive curatorial framing also extends beyond the Western canon, making refreshing connections between different peripheries as well as media and moments of production.

Yekaterinburg-born Sergey Rozhin’s A piece of metal, 2015, utilizes found material with minimal aesthetics. While small brush strokes on steel suggest an island on the horizon, the framing of the bronze sunset with a window leaf—wood, like many of his other installations—seemingly suspends time. Devran Mursaoğlu’s mid-size, process-based sculpture Archive of Deep Time, 2002–2017, on the other hand, consists of paper that the artist collected from India and Japan, among other locales, and then left to accumulate dust in her Istanbul studio for fifteen years. These textless papers, presented in archival Plexiglas alongside intentionally empty boxes, echo our obsession with preserving memories even if we cannot fully remember them.

Mostly unknown in Istanbul until her recent solo show last year, Turkish-American artist Bilge Friedlaender disrupts several parallel charcoal lines by tearing her post-minimalist paper work Untitled (Torn Time), 1974, diagonally. Her powerful artistic gesture recalls a catastrophic event that irreversibly changes the lives of many. Far from being about nothing, the show—as its works prove—seems to explore time and our current moment, the investigation of which requires not just a clear vision but abstraction, as well.