Date: 25. 5. - 16. 6. 2023
Opening of the exhibition on Thursday 25th of May at 18:00, in the presence of the artist and curator Michaela Vaněk.
Özlem Akin and her world
Multidisciplinary artist Özlem Akin (*1986, Turkey) rightly deserves to be associated with her ability to dedicate herself to several different spheres of visual art. At the beginning of her career were her studies in film and television production at the Istanbul Bilgi University, which she further enriched with knowledge in traditional Czech animation techniques at the Film School in Zlín. Handmade and hand-animated stop-motion puppets, already bearing Özlem's distinctive, unmistakable expression, soon transformed, through miniature dolls, into distinctive objects and autonomous small sculptures, set in special showcases or miniature spaces. The artist complements her rich sculptural repertoire with works "in two dimensions" - she devotes herself to paintings, drawing and creating collages. For her material objects, she most often chooses polymer resin, but also uses less common materials such as elements taken from nature, felt, or found objects.
In her works Özlem deals with a variety of topics. The sculptor's specific relationship to human fragility and vulnerability, together with her extraordinary sensibility in relation to poetics of mortality or impermanence, runs like a thread through her art. In it, Özlem reveals her affection for the aesthetics of classical museum installations and cabinets of curiosities, which in addition to rare and valuable objects also hide curious natural artifacts (Punnatural History series). She does not hesitate to critically reflect on current social situations, issues and conflicts (The War Within series). Across all her subjects, Özlem's works are united by a veristic conception, imbued with a touch of uncommon surrealism. Thanks to a healthy dose of exaggeration and of sense of irony, they always have a touch of quirky humor.
Özlem Akin has taken part in many group exhibitions in the Czech Republic (e.g. Museum Montanelli, at the annual Art Prague Fair) as well as abroad (Portugal, New York). She herself has curated the concept of the group exhibition Heart for Heart's Sake. The first solo show of her artifacts took place at Artery Prague in 2018 (The War Within). Two years later, the Dudes & Barbies Gallery presented Özlem's works created in the spirit of a "humorous cabinet of curiosities" at the Kavárna co hledá jméno café in Prague (Punnatural History, 2020). After the oppressive and unsettling set of relief paintings of The War Within project, in Punnatural History, she thus turned to the lighter subject of Wunderkabinetts, richly applying her unique attention to detail to them. Özlem's third and largest solo exhibition to date, held at the Beseder Gallery, is entitled The Promised Rose Garden. Once again, it explores a serious theme, but this time with an authentic reflection of the deeply personal level of the artist herself.
The Promised Rose Garden
The exhibition, compellingly entitled The Promised Rose Garden, presents the latest work from the hands of sculptor Özlem Akin. In many aspects, her works and installations meaningfully build on significant features of her previous series. The precise anatomical details of the human body, subtly combined with surreal elements, remain. Also still present is the inventive incorporation of natural components. This time, crab claws or shells have been replaced by a typical attribute of thorny plants - a wounding thorn, which plays an important role here as the carrier of a hidden message. Finally, the artist's zest of irony and fondness for puns also remans in this series. On the other hand, Özlem Akin is successfully pushing and deepening her creative potential. She has found a new potent theme, which for the first time is based on her individual experiences and feelings, thus enriching her objects with another essential facet, a penetrating intimate dimension. Moreover, this dimension manifests itself here in the very substance of the sculptures, which bear real imprints of the sculptor's body. Last but not least, she has expanded her already varied register of media with new forms (site-specific installations or suspended objects).
A common denominator to all presented works is TOUCH, a sense inherently linked to intimacy, sensitivity, but also vulnerability. It is embodied here by the key motif of the hand as a traditional symbol of touch. A hand extended for a handshake represents friendship, the beginning of a relationship. The soft palm and the fingertips, covered with sensitive skin tissue, evoke tender or comforting caresses, a more intimate expression of mutual closeness. Particularly sensitive are the lips, exposing blood vessels and bare nerve fibers beneath thin translucent skin. This most delicate part of the human body is naturally represented by the most intimate touch between two people - a loving kiss. The flip side, the completely opposite sensation is represented by the aggressive thorn, growing here menacingly from hands and lips, explicitly hurting and tormenting. Touch becomes dangerous, even toxic, capable of hurting, definitely discouraging from further touch. The thorn thus offers two possible interpretations - through its function of offensive weapon, it represents brutality, it can also represent a cautionary self-defense mechanism. The rose motif itself from the exhibition's title also carries ambivalent aspects. Its exquisite flower formed of delicate petals has always signified love, beauty, desire and mystery, hidden in the fragrant center of a rich flood of rose petals. While the rose's thorns evoke agonizing pain, suffering and torment - in emotional terms (burning disappointment, sense of failure, loss of illusions, hopelessness...). After all, the word passion contains both opposite meanings - passion and suffering.
Mo - Sa: 11:00 - 23:00
free admission (entrance through the courtyard of the Beseder Restaurant)