The Art of Ümit İnatçı
Texts written by:
[Sign of Presence, Against Ontological Absence]
When my hand across the surface leaving signs such as presence of moments lived in a moment of breath, I realize that I die and return to live at the same time. Dying means surreal detachment from reason to exist. Living, being alive means announcement of aggregation at what that mortal. Therefore writing concern about self-assertion and noticed by the time itself; time such as memory and consciousness. I know that I existed in the past. I know how to be conceived by the present. I know I'm expected by the future, and I do not want to miss the appointment with my existence.
I do write but do not describe
I do write but do not express
I do write but do not declare
I do write but do not explain.
In a sense, my painting belongs to the landscape system deliberately, even tried to satisfy my aversion for the system of still life’s suction necrophilia, the result of human cunning against nature. Instead, turn to a vision of depicting nature –sign of a violent interventionism– on behalf of hedonistic purposes consists of visual rhetoric as an artificial image, I'd rather melt my eyes to a horizon, and then infinity is only a fragment of subversive continuity.
Fields in well-defined, often conceived as cultivated fields of gestural pulse, are apparently logo-formal signs as codes of prosody, sometimes dissolved as an automatic writing, sometimes meditated as sculptural cuts, sometimes still provisional scratched from the surface –after being covered with color– leaving a negative fluid round as the remains of a memory deeply rooted in the mind but rather timidly rejected.
Ideographical signs as –metalinguistic – paralinguistic codes– are deliberately spread on the surface to give shape to the prosodic rhythm, which defines a poetical character of my “painting as writing”. The primitive tendencies as a ritual and instinctive relationship, with the nature and the sense of geometrical perfection are both introduced in a dualistic way, which represents eclectic coherence of modern man. Writing is an intellectual presence, black is geometry of emptiness, and rigorous lines and hasty writing all are about psychological contradictions that I use them as a precondition of sub-conscience. An apocryphal experience of devotion in ancient writings has always been my inspiration.
The minimized gestures in the distance between the fingers, the microcosms set in a rhythmic juxtaposition as they enface the frontal look. The phonemes in the body in the persistence of silence as a whisper, embroidered on hearing of the deafness. The black background is covered with a color (even if a shade clear, black always sucks its sheen) that seems straight out of a dark Byzantine workshop. It will look like a contradiction for an anti conformist enlightened – utopian, as I am this obscurant contamination of the black as presence of irreversible mortality. But it’s just a precaution to be prepared for the pedantic illusion and delusion of false prosperity.
Pictograms are instinctively designed as an invention of incomprehensible and incompatible language which aiming to produce signs of intellectual independency. The absurd and logic, chaos and system, light and dark, gold or silver and black, physical and metaphysical depth… the antinomy or contradiction is the real habitation of my microcosmic protagonists (pictograms). The harmony of the imperfection, a fruitful contradiction reconciling differences that coexistence impossible. I, consider myself a topiary gardener who works with the perception. My gardens are utopian places –utopian proudly– where plants and organic beings that will feed a crowd cosmic energy. A magic of cohesion that emanates incessantly; chaotic order but that looks like an absolute geometry.
Each painting is like a garden where cosmogony is being reflecting as like as the geometry of chaos. In my art the necessity of inter-subjective communication is developing the sense of comprehension in abstract way that means: decentralization of the logo centric semantics.
Many time the presence of the primary materials as a talismanic accessory on the structure of the painting are reflecting ritual relation between me and art work. The contradiction between a shamanic instinct and scientist logic is evident, but no any mystical tendencies are being aiming to be emphasized on purpose; although it seems so. All these signs –material or/and gestural– that appear on the black found as neutral morphemes with a trans-sensual spiritual, they appears as they are to contradict the idea that the pause in moments of intellectual desperation tends to escape into emptiness as an unconceivable momentum.
In the spirit of an Alchemist or Shaman – Tantric – Zen Master, I shift from surface to volumetric mediums, from mystic to poetry; I believe that one should have the courage to tackle both extremities: the creative and anachronism versus the certainty of actual veering unto infinity, unknown also capable of accepting both archaic and modern grounds without lapsing into phenomena of bias and magic, that can only lead to proper mysticism. What is mystic or hermetic in my art is only a mimetic embodiment of archaic behavior of art. In a way I tempt to divulge the paradox in artwork. An anthropological search, without questioning what is progress or regress, but simultaneously a kind of instrument for reestablishing an archaic past of the rituality in art.
I am not interested in optical realistic representation of an object but in interpreting its ontological aspect as trans-sensual – spiritual engagement with nature of the objects… My art has been cosmos-centric rather than anthropocentric as in Occidental art that exalts personality. I see man as an integral part of nature. The affinity between man and nature was what impressed me as an artist.
The nature is sacred! It is not a religious affirmation, and theological; but merely a sublimation of nature that exalt the value of inexorable geniality of man-pastor of itself capable of overcoming any metaphysical, supernatural and transcendental feeling participate atomic, organic of this nature –all in one– in which/trough which I explore myself but without trying to invent any god or any prophet. I consider myself a dispersed. However, on the way of discovering my own way of being, unlike the dervishes I don’t aim to walk a spiral path running around my navel, but my journey is horizontal Galilean. In my journey, me as a sense-cultivator painter, all I do is depicting, cultivating over with a reductionist tendency a set of phenomena that surround me. All this is about to come to an eidos refraining from the suspension of absence taking the access road to pure consciousness. I am the primitive of the future… A modern Shaman… Chronically anachronistic!
as long as our thinking
purchases a body as a presence in the infinite
until our thinking
becomes a deep breath as a moment
as well as the place where everything
concentrated in one to settle
Dealing with the things of nature
with the nature of things
dealing with nothing
nothing like ontological absence of I.
abandoning the mind to a total amnesia
reproducing new memories.
I'm talking about depicting and writing (as painting) over, in my case, is the same thing. In any small gesture/sign has become a pictogram, ideogram, or a syllable, etc. I construct an enigmatic moment to guess the origin of the human instinct governed by memories not decrypted. I do not paint to make a work as a result of subjective reflection, but to document a series of sense datum that lead me to the outside world: What that does not belong to my body but I am part of it. I write not to call the viewer to carry out a lecture transferable into literal communicability, but to produce entire lexicon through which minds can be feed of the meanings translatable only with the perceptive ability of which the equivocal is only motor.
I do write to recover the remote memory
I do write to communicate with the sub-natural
I do write to demystify the myth
I do write to communicate with silence
I do write to surrender in emptiness
I do write to bury my body in the light
I do write to slip into the density of the invisible
I do write to affirm my presence,
besieged in the universe of things to praise a noematic becoming of "I meditator" liberating myself –from everything that my mind has been given through all the tools of daily information of mass media conceived as the data storage that feeds decadent culture our minds, and use their memory as an auxiliary machine– to reclaim signs of new insignia leading to new noesis.
Perugia, February 1998.
The path extending from the self to the universe is my own body, so much and so nothing.
According to the Ancient Greek poet Hesiodos, one of the creators of the mythological cosmogony and theogony, there is chaos at the origin of the creation of the earth. At the same time, and perhaps counter intuitively, chaos constitutes cosmic harmony itself. Following the train of this understanding, from Hermes to Orpheus, into a myth of creation and belief, we witness the transformation of nature into a mysterious world. In such a world, it is an outcome of the very nature of man that ritual and talisman have been of the essence in regard of spiritual tendencies. A human being is a part of and parcels of the notion of natura naturans, which gives meaning to what s/he experiences in the space of nature itself and his/her own subjectivity. Art, again perhaps counter-intuitively, is a natural form of activity, which makes this process of signification and sublimation of the meaning visible.
Remembering and the desire to be remembered is the outcome of a behavior, which requires humans to leave a trace. Starting from a line until it becomes a form imitating nature, the trace/mark, has always come into being as the manifestation of a sense of elevation; then come the sound and the sound and the resonance. From the whistle of the wind to the music of symphonies, from a shaman’s invocation to religious hymns, the music that rises over the complicated emotions of worship, dedication and liberation... Like painting, music also centers round the mysterious relationship of man’s harmony with nature. According to the monotheistic creation myth “in the beginning was the Word; then, “Silence appeared” says Jean Baudrillard in his book ‘‘Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?’’ This is a misconception on his part; because, in fact it is the word that caused the silence to deteriorate.
There was silence in the beginning and then the word appeared. ‘‘There is no longer anything to be called as the end.’’ the same philosopher goes on to add. However both the beginning and the end are the accelerating generators of the same cycle and like a reflection in a mirror they proliferate in each other. When man perceives the beginning and the end as a duality like birth and death, s/he begins to question what life means and to design the gods. This is the point at which we have to look for the beginning of art (art’s arche).
This arche/ beginning and principle (arche has a double meaning in Greek) is what concerns me; the first untouched state of art; actually the state before art becomes art.
As an artist, my location in time and space –an-arche– originates from a situation, which is neither the first nor the original. Like Klee seeking for music in painting on a two dimensional surface adorned with abstract symbols, I too search for music and harmony. The ritualism in paintings and installations can be reconciled with orphic spirituality. My works are as old and “anachronistic” as the ancient quest for harmony with nature because I believe that thinking within the boundaries of the present creates a cognitive situation that is contradictory to art.
Orphism is a term, which is generally used to describe the compositions of the cubic painting artists based on color harmony. I believe the paintings that I produce completely correspond with orphic art; in both senses of the term. Stemming from Orphism the offshoot of Cubism, and Orphism stemming from Orpheus, son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope, he of the divine Music. We can metaphorically perceive the reflection of Hermetic and Orphic dualism in the ritual paintings, adorned with abstract symbols that are inspired from nature, constructed within motifs concern calligraphic system and musicality. My paintings (either with paints or objects) feature an esoteric fiction that cannot but evoke talisman and spell. You can see in my installations as well that I proceed on the same tendencies path and juxtapositions. Moreover, the pictures that I took comprise objects transformed into painting constructed with the same approach. In fact it might be more accurate to talk about these pictures as ones that I ‘made/constructed’ rather than ‘took’. The objects and space in the pictures, which I handle with digital instruments, abandon their own reality and move into a metaphysical dimension thus being transformed into something other from what they were originally.
Unlike metropolitan intellectuals trapped into topicality, I aim to make art like a shaman who tries to return to and commune with the cosmic unity of the nature. Primitiveness and geometry, intuition and consciousness, subject and object, mystery and clarity, part and whole, suspicion and the absolute… Clashing with dualities and like a homo ludens (playing man) making myself part of the game, I am trying to prove that all this sublimation is nothing but a role taking game.
If every ritual is an escape from reality and a form of resistance against nothingness, art doesn’t reveal a state of presence different than that. I think it is necessary to find a way of purifying ourselves from all the impacts of everyday life, which prevent us from asking “Is nothingness itself the only truth?” Even defining myself as an anarchist and an atheist falls short of that; On the other hand perhaps it is more than that. If my journey is towards “nothing” than, these definitions may also lose their own value.
Description forms/styles extending from shamanism to hermetic rituals of Egyptians, to the cosmogony in the Ancient Greek Mythology and cultural anthropology – that reached up until today on ethnography level are hidden in the cultural gene structure of my work. From an ancient ceramic to an icon, from a painting in a temple to the motifs on rugs, from a shaman's talismanic objects to the schematic pictures of an alchemist, from eternal stones to the manuscripts, from a Far eastern painting to miniature… Whatever there is that painting and writing is perceived as, as a whole, exercises and preoccupies my mind. This inspiration and source of knowledge that renders artistic production dynamic is what keeps my mind alive. Always. Of course the psycho-dynamics of art, its social influence, its intellectual and spiritual oscillations, the ontological concerns and being virtuous are also important and indeed substantial for an artist; but what is more important is that an artist should not allow his/her own presence to be a tool for another mind’s sublimity try-outs.
Freedom that Romanticism had given to the artist seems to be long gone. The institutions, status, the approval of authority and the ontological standing of the artist slip into a socioeconomic sequence. As an artist resisting the intellectual forms of production trying to be totalized by the art market under the name of “Contemporary Art”, I strive not to be a part of the time I live in, but of the holistic time which records human beings to her memory. Omnia ab uno omnia ad unum – from whole to the sole, from sole to the whole. The cycle of Macro cosmos and Micro cosmos… It is
in this cycle that I test my presence; I both exist and do not exist. All “selves” lead to the god, and all the gods to the “self”. My path leads to the universe, where I both find myself and in which I disappear / vanish. That is the significance of an-arche.
Apocrypha and cosmic energy, just to pronounce the presence of nothingness.
Ideographical signs as –metalinguistic and paralinguistic codes– are deliberately spread on the surface to give shape to the prosodic rhythm, which defines a poetical character of my “painting as writing”. The primitive tendencies as a ritual and instinctive relationship with the nature and the sense of geometrical perfection are both introduced in a dualistic way, which represents the eclectic coherence of modern man. Writing is an intellectual and ontological presence, black is geometry of emptiness, and rigorous lines and hasty writing all are about the psychological contradictions that I use as a precondition of sub-conscience. An apocryphal experience of devotion in ancient writings has always been my inspiration. Pictograms are instinctively designed as an invention of an incomprehensible and incompatible language aiming to produce signs of intellectual independency.
I consider myself a topiary gardener who works with perception. My gardens are utopian places –utopian proudly– where plants and organic beings that will feed the world cosmic energy. A magic of cohesion that emanates incessantly chaotic order, that looks like an absolute geometry. Each painting is like a garden where cosmogony is being reflected like the geometry of chaos.
The contradiction between a shamanic instinct and scientific logic is evident, but no mystical tendencies are emphasized on purpose; although it may so seem. All these signs –material or/and gestural– that appear as neutral morphemes with a trans-sensual spirituality, are there to contradict the idea that the pause in moments of intellectual desperation tends to escape into emptiness as an unconceivable momentum.
What is mystical or hermetic in my art is only a mimetic embodiment of archaic behavior of art. In a way I attempt to divulge the paradox in artwork. An anthropological search, without questioning what is progress or regression, but simultaneously a kind of instrument for re-establishing an archaic past of the rituality in art. I am the primitive of the future… A modern Shaman… Chronically anachronistic!
UMIT INATCI: A SPACE ATTENDING FOR NEW HYMNS
A root of the sign never died out, even prodigiously fertile, that is still able to emit shoots is that which originates within the imaginary large flows in the Mediterranean, the singular work of Umit Inatci. So firmly established and active in intake of fluids and piquancy authentically that mitium hieroglyphics found in the action of the fair young artistic personality Inatci, the reason of integrating communicative ideals. It confirms that the happy fate of the creative force in the place to find an identity that can testify to the poetic vocation and the need to be and to manifest itself, takes place against all adversities for a principle so invisible as absolute. It does not seem exaggerated a priori statement just issued, for an artist who, at least in Italy, is almost at the beginning of a process of enunciation. But to myself and a few other witnesses who, during the last ten years have seen the growth of the visual language of Inatci, these assessments do not seem either misplaced or beyond measure.
Since the early eighties, when I watched the first in Perugia and already certain propositions, still pervaded by tension tests conducted questioning of the School of Painting of Nuvolo Ascani, his teacher and close friend of Burri, Colla, and Villa, Inatci already broadcast on frequencies high, outcome of that fine abstraction that the artist borrowed from the even younger age the ancient culture of his homeland Cyprus. But the meeting with Italian painting and its medieval towns and Renaissance as well as with the most extreme European avant-garde and contemporary Italian, from Beuys to Kounellis, from Fabro to Merz, from Pistoletto to Prini and Boetti, produced in its fertile artistic attitude to formalization a great incentive. In this way, and soon came Inatci autonomy of its own semantic system and the path of a codex morphological space allotted in a network whose topos, even before filing and distinctive gestures and signs, make evident a certain principle.
The first results of work even if plausible figures flanked forms and exemplified in the actual "emblem", each of meaningful penetration in the imagination of every observer. In that long period, lasting several years, and whose numerous and sophisticated processing techniques - both in the preparation of the color fields host the drawings, and in the production of space won and redefinition with overlapping fabric painting - were aware of the work seen in the exhibition Nicosia (1995), some of which are also present in Bari
Taken together, those "lists" of scribal tradition vocabularies exhibited even more hermetic than Eblaites just because changes in the source language of the lemma view. Inatci, with successive versions introduced in recent years even some symbolic inserts such as doors, thresholds, and some architectural schemes, as well as profiles of landscape: the case of works as a portal of Utopia (1995) from the blend wrap circle square, or “Antinomy” (1995), the hemispheres separated by subfield red silhouettes of mountains which rise unlikely or clear backgrounds dissimilar shades of color.
It became increasingly evident so that, even in the early proto-lexical works related with the most ancient Mesopotamian tablets or Sumerian, there was no intention imitative or citations, but rather a spontaneous emergence of a sudden glare-listening narrated almost exhumed and resurrected for how much more vivid. The introduction of other forms, too dominant and emblematic, revealed the intention to tell with absolute freedom, even if covered by the study of semantic relationships between forms and signs.
But this year, more than one new trick of increased plasticity and luminosity distinguishes the new work. First with discrete copper foil inserts delimiting surfaces painted with flap on the frame and then vibrated with determination coming to insert-metal material within the same pictorial page: the case of works like the “Isochefalia of equals not similar” (1996), “Humorous Epitaph” (1996), or “Mohammedan Sacrifice” (1996).
Meanwhile, among these solutions, you are overlooking the presence of gold and black, often bearing the valence and the royal funeral, certainly a stark contrast and contradiction of strong light and evocative of darkness. Both the swing states of being gold and the black engage the views also on the appearance of resistance or the same oblivion. A temptation of black that comes to the artists in times of anxiety and great intentions of change, cancellation and will that want to make a clean sweep of all previous announcement of an extreme announce of spatial vacuum.
With these aspects become symptomatic therefore an introductive to the latest works, the paintings “Pittura Metrica” (1996) and “Pittura Lettrica” (1996), both centripetal luministic in a sense. They seem to define a vestibule of entrance to the big obscure gap opened up and surrounded by metal frames of copper as the “Mare Nostrum of Mourning” (1996), newly decorated top and bottom with the presence of point-form, and “Dormitorium” (1996) invaded by a new sign, which has become plastic.
The landing port on which Inatci attending to its extreme wise of spatial test and pictorial-plastic has the feel of a pilgrimage to shrines supremacists, but with new offers. No more sacrificial dimensions and break the rules of Malevich or Fontana, but that of a young artist, while "singing" the verbal-visual poem zero, prepares his new adventure with the dramatic and anxious waiting cornerstone program of the “Fertility” (1996).
And then there can only wish good fortune to play in this exploration, as is expected for all the braves!
Umit Inatci, “Piktografielirike 1994-1995”.
VISUAL QUASI-ALPHABET FOR A PICTORIAL MULTI-ETHNICITY
Umit Inatci is in Italy, in the West. An exile once again, he has left the island of Cyprus in order to find asylum among the Umbrian walls that already in the past welcomed him. A citizen of peace, an exile like his pelagic ancestors, he brings us his roots and his absolute obstinacy in defending the thought of freedom that animates him.
A pictorial polyphony
Many years ago as an apprentice archeologist, I saw a tablet of bronze of Idalion in an old book that showed a document in Cypriot syllabic writing. Years later in a distant museum, I discovered the real document and, moved, I turned my gaze to the small object. The light was on it and the reflecting rays picked out elementary signs, an apparent simplification of archaic images that showed there was a relationship with Greek culture and with Middle East culture, but also with an expressivity present in contemporary artistic reality.
I am reminded of that tablet today when faced with the works of Umit Inatci, observing his search for the form of the sign, the shade of a hypothetical word, the definition of a space in terms of relation, the luminosity of a metal.
There is in fact present a derivative element in the work of this Cypriot artist, even if enriched by many other influences, by archaic documentation. The sign becomes a presence from its first timid and conscious appearance in canvases furrowed with traces in which images are set: herds, doves, carts, bombs and other elements with inferences both of a rustic memory and a contemporary iconography of war. There are also signs of a naturalistic origin linked to symbols, allegories and captions, turned into icons of an idea until they are categorized spatially and organized into a library of images, a visual log of images.
The daily contact with art critic and curator Bruno Cora and the masters Nuvolo Ascani, Antonio Gatto and the direct knowledge of numerous artists, from Luciano Fabro to Michelangelo Pistoletto, from Mario and Marisa Merz to Enrico Castellani, Jannis Kounellis, Carla Accardi and many others during his years of training in Perugia stimulated a reflection on ways in which in art thought takes form and on the need for research into his own painting which he is creating over the years with constance and with maturity. Figures are being transmuted into hieroglyphics and ideograms to the point where pictographic images are composed which increasingly tend towards abstraction. At the same time the elaboration of various ways of working with and using materials which are foreign to pictorial tradition - from the first timid but conscious 'engegement', justified by the need to experiment, to the point where why and how we act is discovered within one's own experience and tradition - suggest new possibilities, ways and synchronies with pigment and a vital essence that at times seems to flow with unstoppable impetus.
Research into the nature of the sign connects the works. It melts into a probable visual writing that conjugates within itself inferred elements from a large number of sources, from modern pictograms, scientific language, distant alphabets, elementary ideograms, from a deep archetypical heritage. The sign fills the pictorial space first in a gestural causality which is almost informal, then increasingly determined by elementary forms that can be traced back to the circle, the square and the rectangle in which Cartesian axes define the space in a grid, almost a sort of chessboard where signs, new letters and ideograms find their place as elements of a visual quasi-alphabet for a pictorial multi-ethnicity. In work after work these elements become increasingly icons of their own sign world from which the artist takes leave in order to conquer a greater elementary aspect in traces played with upon the canvas, the ephemeral limit between image and writing, refining it in the memory and causing the deepest experiences to rise again until writing takes place with images no longer linked to any kind of translation.
A game of chess between East and West
I've never been to Cyprus. I've often planned on going in order to swim in its sea and measure its past with my footsteps. My knowledge of it has come from books and those people who have talked at length to me of its beauty, its history and its Centuries old tragedy. Names and stories of the strenuous defense put up by the Giovanites against the Eastern powers come to mind, visits by kings resting between crusades, other subjugated kings and presumptuous sultans. But also of an ancient culture that conjugated the wisdom of two different fraternal worlds, one to the east and one to the west.
Inatci tries to create a sharing of one and the other, a relating of two worlds, a play of differences and similarities, in an ironical stroll along two paths which over the centuries have crossed each other and then separated continually until the present wall of intolerance was created.
To suspend time in a repetition that evokes decorum without ever becoming it put gold as the place of epiphany in the image, give depth to elements by exalting their value and chromatic brilliance, continually and constantly find a way to abstraction without this being reconstituted by means of a narration with words that change themselves into taught gestural, tend to negation of the natural image and to its substitution with a non-writing, constitutes a masterly daily exercise of resistance to mimetic facility.
The size and proportions present even in the most gestural of works turn into a need to lay out pages within golden proportions, within compartments in which elements are related in a complexity within which the glance finds rest in subtle equilibriums. The lesson of the great Tifernian master, for so long observed, from the first sacks to the large blacks, as well as that of Renaissance painting, are metabolized and resituated with intense visual results.
The carpet as mirror of everything
A legend, probably in part apocryphal, tells the story of an ambitious sultan -who, although in possession of a splendid and ancient carpet in the court of Bursa, wanted to engage the services of Egyptian artisans whose fame had reached him. He sent a ship to Cairo in order to engage a dozen. During the return journey a storm forced the ship to seek shelter in a port where it stayed for several weeks. The story then tells of how only eleven of the carpet makers left the port, which was on the island of Cyprus.
The grid becomes increasingly an organizing element in the equilibrium of the pictorial page and within it there is gradually composed a sort of a map of a territory that inclines towards the upper horizon, the probable profile of a landscape. From saturation to a rarefying of the image in a condition, which keeps in mind the spatial lesson of North American masters. The lower part leaps towards the observer while the upper part calmly becomes a monochrome background or an epigraphic image, emphasizing the outline, the margin that tends to decorate historically and define a problem concerning the frame. The grid, no longer regular and complete, often presents a break, a loss, one might say, of certainty and the emergence of a doubt. There is almost a break towards the edge, usually the upper edge, beyond which the signs disperse and float in color. The chessboard is no longer statically binding, but becomes a placement from which we make our own moves.
New geometries and new scratches intertwine and invade, consume adjacent spaces, relate to each other until they are reciprocally dissolved. Within the square a subtle play of references and responses suggest a path towards the eye: an arrow, an image sectioned into parts, a tonality of color towards another leads to a labyrinthine vision until there is a loss of orientation which is then regained in the work as a whole. Everything then returns to the surface in order to fall once again into the depths. The pictorial surface takes in and demonstrates to one's eyes the stratified and silent thought, refracts and consumes a sedimentation, which sets the basis for action. The various levels of pictorial, texture denote different work phases and they merge; the sign rests upon a background, a new arrangement surrounds the sign, a new sign underlines and marks again the preceding in a process of successive elaborations that become refined as the work develops, from the outset of a project, while taking into consideration an objective.
Unpronounceable words suspended in color.
Evagora, king of Salamis, twice offered his hospitality to the Greek Conon. His was a generous and troubled land, sold and abandoned, often betrayed (where otherwise could Iago plot?). A territory of strategic conquests from Sargon II, the Assyrian who subjected the seven kings to the Serenissima who ceded it to the Osmans of Selim II, up until the contemporary merchants of death who condition - if they do not actually manage from distant lands - the destiny of the island.
Umit Inatci's studies lead him back into the past, from the fauves to “surrealisme au service de la revolution”, and give free rein to dreamy colors representing the world differently. The fundamental colors dissolve in shades, which at times are powerful and at others delicate and which seem to overflow from the magic well of a modern dyer. They match each other, attract each other or reject each other in order to placate an impetus, in order to emphasize shininess or have an echo resonate. The browns accompany the blues, the violets the bright greens and reds with tones of yellow that grow until they become gold. The latter is an announcement of Byzantium but we do not know if it comes from the east or if it comes from, the west by means of central Italian medieval painting. It doesn't really matter so much from where but towards where. This announces the iconostasis, the opening, the portal beyond which all is concealed. Chaos finds an apparent order and equilibrium and the golden threshold of the regal doors becomes an opening towards a greater spiritual dimension, a place of meditation.
Color captures light and space opens to make way for the mihrab, niches in mosques or prayer mats. Signs abandon even a similarity with writing in order to become the mark of a sound articulated in a whisper, in a shamanic song whose comprehension is denied us. The eyes hear a word, which becomes a silent interior sound. But it is only hinted at, present in a few recent works, perhaps the germ of future workings. The multitude of signs seems to squeeze into the forms that contain them. The abstract geometry changes into a memory tied to the thanatological tradition of a mausoleum, a boundary stone, a tumulus, a slab for a forgotten epigraph fixed into the land. Today the gold makes way for the powerful black that makes camp in a central position until it invades the entire pictorial surface: from gold to black, from black to the evoking of memory, nomination after death.
Paper, gauze, wood, wax, nets and metals: the different materials accumulate in order to conceal or exalt the painting. The interest is pictorial and they become new three-dimensional pigments. The point becomes a golden embossed scratch upon the surfaces, copper is shyly placed upon the canvas almost as if to mark the hinges of an image whose weight it carries and to which it presents brilliancy. Embossed signs upon metal, backgrounds in gold and silver pigment upon canvas. Inversions and reflections, luminosity that is repeated from one picture to the next... The timid sign that surrounds the picture, the will to rediscover a measure of the image becomes a border, a material limit upon which oxidization marks the passage of time, draws the image into itself. Black as annihilation, as extreme limit reached after a sacrificial purification. The gold base reflects a darkened reality and becomes a picture that, tending towards supremacy, is cancelled out in Malevich-like black. The place of no return becomes a possibility for opening once again, a path towards new remedies in the future.
Painting moves towards lyricisms that are equal to the poetic word. The sound becomes brother to the movement of the brush, which finds its space in large colorful backgrounds.
Just like the cantore errante in Asia who Leopardi brought back to mind, it does not give up but longs for ‘wings to fly above the clouds/and number the stars one by one...’
Umit Inatci, “Segni” 1995-1997”.
ON THE MAN AND HIS “PRESENCE”
When Ümit İnatçı writes some explanation on his paintings, he uses the following sentences: “From time to time, areas that have edges with each other and that I try to emphasize through different colors and are like a text field which collect my pulses in the form of logo-form or pictogram. All these writing-painterly formation of lines (marks) like a sign which gives evidence of ‘inconceivable momentum’ that is formed by the state of spirituality beyond sensation, finds body on the black background”. When Ümit İnatçı talks about the pulses first, then, “inconceivable momentum” of spirituality he mentions two different states of him (and certainly the ’human concept’): existence of human and existence of being... The two states in question should never be considered as a word game; because they constitute the main topic of philosophy since Plato.
Let’s make an explanation here: when the word ‘being’ is used, this covers every ’thing’ in such a way that all people, objects and even God. The ‘existence of being’, on the other hand, is the state of being for ‘all’ things and ‘entity’ itself in this event of ‘being’. From this, the following can be deduced: ‘Human as an object and subject’, is merely an ‘entity’. However, at the same time he is in the existence of being (i.e. as an existing asset).
Platon had always considered ‘the man as an object and subject’ as deficient. His people were trapped in a cave, sought the light and therefore could not see the truth (‘the presence of being’ i.e. the act of being). He could not use the ontological possibilities provided by the spirit and could never reach its ‘substance’ (it never had the hope to reach anyway). Although Plato is roughly known like this; he could not pass without emphasizing that these people in the cave had to try to reach the truth. At this point we can make an assumption: despite the fact that Plato considered the man deficient,
through the ‘advice’ he gave to the man in the cave, secretly and ideally he felt that he was an ontological ‘object’ that could lean towards the truth (but he could not invent a method to demonstrate this philosophy). When compared to classical philosophy, modern philosophy could bring some analysis to this issue with clearer language.
Here, particularly Martin Heideger should be recalled. According to Heidegger, ‘humanity as an object and subject is a ‘being’ that understands ‘existence’ (i.e. ‘the act of being’). Emmanuel Levinas has summarized Heidegger as follows: “Human existence is such that he understands being. This proposition, in fact, is equivalent to the proposition which we think says more at first glance: ”Human beings exist in such a way that; his main concern has always been his own existence”. The human being who understands the act of being away from him self does this by ‘understanding’ himself and uses his ontological authenticity for this.
As Heidegger put forward a ‘philosophy of existence’, in a way shapes in flesh and bones, Plato’s hint about human beings and explains a case he could not express. Man converts his own ‘existence’ again by turning towards himself (by ‘understanding’ him) and thus in this way, he becomes a part of this act of being. And this ‘understanding’ is not realized by converting experience into knowledge; it is realized by the discovery of ontological attributes. Levinas, on the other hand, when explaining Heidegger’s philosophy has reached a definite opinion and wrote that ‘existing’ human beings’ (i.e. ‘existing human beings as the subject and object’) understanding of ‘existence’ actually converts him to an ‘entity’ itself. And man, from this onwards and as a triumph of Western philosophy, is reflected as belonging to the act of being.
Now, if we turn once again to Ümit İnatçı’s work, there we observe almost all adventures of ‘human and existence’ problematic from classical philosophy onwards. In fact, if we consider the human being’s struggle against himself and nature and process of giving meaning to all these started to appear with the paintings on the cave walls, in these works, we also come across with the traces of pre-philosophical times.
However, the work of art presented in this exhibition by Ümit İnatçı is not a simple chronology of human beings exchange with ‘thought’. Here, the interesting issue is the artist’s desire to cover this process again free from this chronology and philosophical propositions. Obviously as the artist realized the works of art that constitute this exhibition (as in numerous previous exhibitions), has converted himself as ‘a philosophical test subject in the form of ‘being’ and has been implementing some experiments in the route to ‘understanding’. Although the artist may act as if he has forgotten the chronological structure of ’thought’, he certainly measure the methods of the experiments he is implementing with that philosophical process.
Ümit İnatçı points out just this: “In fact, I myself chose the state of converting the line that extends between the cave and modern man through drawings, writing-drawings till the invention of writing, with the aim of communication, recognition and constituting visual memory into consciousness, information, documents and authority, as the source of nutrition for my art.” It is this process which corresponds with the relationship between ‘existence’ through the thought of man and act of being that the artist forms his works of art by covering this distance numbers of times and presenting us this process.
However, we should particularly emphasize that there is a huge difference between the intellectual process and chronological structure covering ‘human and existence problematic’ that Ümit İnatçı presents us. As the historical process flows from the pictures in the caves to today, the process Ümit İnatçı demonstrates us flows from today backwards. Therefore, this exhibition simply indicates the act of presenting philosophical structures through art rather than the process of gathering experiences and constituting knowledge belonging to man as a product of experiencing philosophical structures.
Simply Non-Conformist Artist
I met Umit Inatçı in the mid-nineties of the twentieth century, and we never lost sight of. Together, films and documentaries, websites and seminars, exhibitions and books...
In a world of masses of intellectuals and artists –the masses are mediocre as always– a great intellectual and a great artist... In a world of intellectuals and artists –who enjoy more than writing to publish, more to show than to paint– a human being who likes to write and paint.
In a world where the works are a means to an end, and the end is, the claim economic and social and psychological, that's an intellectual and artist who lives the picture, book, the movie and the seminary, and the friendship and collaboration, as an end in itself.
Umit the artist of ancient genre such as Donatello and Brunelleschi, Leonardo and Michelangelo... Umit who was trained and intellectually shaped in Italy... Umit the artist of Renaissance genre not confined simply in a technique, discipline, a profession, in a speech: a poet/painter Umit, paints, sculpts, designs, searches, documents, writes and teaches, plays, acts civilly, secularly and politically.
Umit an artist is not anti-conformist. The anti-conformism is the other side of conformism. Who is anti, is still all that is opposed antithetically. Umit is simply non-conformist artist. Umit artist and Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and Italian, Mediterranean and European and Universal...
Retrieve the intuition of Shamanistic, Tantric, Zen Art and whatever is ritual, spiritual and hermeneutic that originates arts... Visual and verbal Poetry, Surrealist automatism, abstract symbolism, signs of remote memory and presence, consciousness and desire to become part of the cosmic harmony without devoting himself to any God and belief.
Umit that goes in a bookstore in Istanbul and comes out with two bags of books by authors who knows, authors who does not know, on the topics of his research, on unexpected research and opinions of others, books for himself, books for his university students.
Umit entering a scene from a movie filmed in Cyprus as an actor... camera, action! He surprises and moves and, freezes all: it is not clear; it is difficult to understand if he plays, if he acts, if repeats, if invents, if he is a father, if he is a brother...
Umit is –certainly creator of a new civilization.
Rome, 28 November, 2011.
MEMORY AND PRESENCE
Umit Inatci’s body of work is governed by a strong symbolism, which alludes to archetypal forms. Beyond any socio-political circumstances or situations and against any kind of power, the artist invents his own alphabet of signs, which serves as a personal language, having its own codes and accessible only after an initiation. In the installation Memory and Presence, the artist writes on a blackboard using white colour these exact personal symbols, which allude to an ancient undeciphered script. He combines them with other symbols in blue and red colour, like arrows, cross-shaped figures or vestigial geometrical forms.
Besides any references to the history of art and the use of a black background – from Kazimir Malevich to Ad Reinhard – it seems that in Umit Inatci’s work the basic insinuation is made on the blackboard, on the black board on which the pupils used to learn how to write before the introduction of copybooks and long before the boards were painted green. Malevich’s pure clarity and the spiritual element or the absolute void beyond Ad Reinhard’s mystified allusions are not characteristics of Umit Inatci’s art, which is rife of symbols and references to the relationship between past and present. The blackness of the board expresses the basis of the primordial chaos out of which emerged the first instances of articulation, and writing of a potentially understandable speech. The cryptographic personal symbols of the artist allow him to ‘hide’, to get away from legible symbols or everyday problems, to indulge more in ancient and panhuman socio-political and philosophical questions. Thus, he creates a secret language within the language itself, which functions as an escape from a reality that hurts.
The installation is completed with a small table on which the artist writes signs of his personal alphabet on a white background. The three-dimensional still life is completed with the skull of a native Cypriot ram as a sacrificial animal, and a ball made up of white stout leather bands with many knots. Knots are representing a momentum of cosmic coincidence. At the four legs of the table the artist has tied unprocessed branches of wood. Besides an initial surprise the viewer may feel towards this weird composition of materials, which has nothing to do with the artist’s aesthetic intentions and which would, in some ways allude to materials of Arte Povera, the whole installation of Umit Inatci takes a special form. Because, in essence, this is a kind of an improvised ‘magic graft’, which the artist uses with the utopian desire to give back to the wood its former natural life, abolishing in this way the contrast between nature and culture. The dry branches of wood serve as intermediate, improvised instruments of a magical function. Consciously, the artist talks about a kind of shaman (animist) intention, which characterises his creative process and comes in contrast with a more rationalistic classification one can see in other of his works, like, for instance, in those with the dividing vertical and horizontal lines, which resemble a chess board. One could say that Umit Inatci introduces disorder to Piet Mondrian’s “grille/grid” and re-interprets that of Paul Klee.
The classification, the filling of the pictorial surface to the point of saturation offers a kind of security to the feeling of insecurity that may be created by the void. If, as Aldo Iori states, “the grid becomes increasingly an organising element in the equilibrium of the pictorial page and within it there is gradually composed a sort of a map of territory that inclines towards the upper horizon,”(1) we could say that Umit Inatçi creates a kind of ‘territoire mental’, which allows him to get out of himself and to function in two contrasting, in the eyes of the Western world, courses: “Umit – philosopher, pacifist, political activist, logician. Umit: witch, doctor, shaman, spiritualist, magician.”(2) It is these strong contrasts that govern the whole installation: the tangible and the abstract, the black and the white, the absolutely smooth surface of the table and the unprocessed wood of the branches, the primitive and the modern, nature and culture, life and death.
1. Aldo Iori, Signs-Yazilar ‘The recent painting of Ümit Inatçi’, Danilo Montanari Editore, Italy, page 12, 1997.
2. Dimis Michaelides, ‘The Magic and Logic of Ümit Inatçi’ (text for artist new monograph), 2011.
The Magic and Logic of Umit Inatci
The grand shaman raised a branch to the sky, looked down upon the dried leaves burning below and drew the symbols of fertility and eternity on the wet ground and then again in the air. From behind a wandering cloud Aristotle, Descartes, Marx and Freud smiled with an air of superiority.
The experience of magic is the experience of an impossible happening. It requires a breakdown in the relationship between cause and effect. We can experience this as skeptics and rationalists, ask Socratic questions and make our own deductions and hypotheses. Or we can attribute this to Gods and spirits and supernatural forces.
Umit Inatci takes us in both directions. Umit – philosopher, pacifist, political activist, logician. Umit –witch–doctor, shaman, spiritualist, magician… We can also simply sit back and enjoy Umit the artist, painter, aesthete and poet.
Umit’s latest work brings us rites and rituals, spells and charms and objects of devotion. Canvases, sculptures and installations build on his previous work that was entrenched in the worlds of Enlightenment and Reason, Byzantium and Islam, Hellenism and Ottoman culture, elements he still preserves even as opens the door to the medicine man from faraway primitive cultures. The shaman confronts the scientist refusing to be relegated to oblivion, as a contest of magician versus logician transcends time and space.
Symbols have for a long time been pervasive in Umit’s art. He establishes balance with the masterful juxtaposition of geometric shapes, sometimes a strange kind of balance, but balance nonetheless. He constructs boxes, boundaries and borders and at the same time creates little corners of intuition, little pockets of chaos. His colors are cold and calculated but also (and increasingly) warm and affectionate with his trademark gold, silver and copper still very much there. Occasional sculptured juxtapositions and embellishments to the frame with objects of fetish and worship sometimes extend the canvases into three dimensions. Layers of paint become allegories to periods of history - one culture builds on another even as it displaces it, destroying and creating at the same time.
The art is silent and the art speaks. Opposing languages meet – East and West, Science and the Occult, Reason and Emotion, Identity and Universality, Individual and Society, Tragedy and Humor, the Cross and the Crescent – crossroads of harmony and crossroads of tension. The symbols are figurative and abstract, real and invented. Through these crossroads new languages emerge to tell the same old stories in new ways. Or to tell new stories in old –forgotten– languages…
The art speaks and the art is silent. It reveals a lot and hides some things too for some things are taboo for the tribe. It hides the truly mystical things, physically covers them under a layer of paint, or under a piece of cloth – concealed, silent voices, intimate parts, known only to the family or the close circle of devotees, or captive inside a single human being.
The art is a mix of meticulous planning and unbridled spontaneity, a product of the reflective, calculative mind peppered with flashes of inspiration, sometimes cerebral, sometimes playful, never childish or naive. The magical reminiscences are there to engage the viewer in a trip into the future and a trip into the past, with art as a bridge between the two. The journey transcends the many boundaries and borders of Cyprus offering the world a new dimension, a new space and time invented especially by Umit the magician and Umit the logician.
*Author of “The Art of Innovation”, Performa Productions, 2007 Nicosia/Cyprus.
INTELLECTUAL ELABORATION OF ABSTRACT SYMBOLS
“A drawing is simply a line going for a walk – and a line is a dot that went for a walk.”
It is in these words that Paul Klee described his idea of art: a line, a dot. Kandinsky agreed: a painting is nothing more than colors displayed in one way or another. In Arabic art, the written language often becomes a drawing, even a painting – Arabic, as a friend described it to me, is the transformation of the dunes of the desert into graphic lines and dots.
The first thing an observer stumbling upon a painting by Umit Inatci does wonder whether those signs, the lines and dots that crowd the image, are indeed a language. Runic, perhaps, I remember thinking the first time I saw one of his paintings. And, although art is a kind of language, the use of actual words in paintings is something usually practiced by Collage and Pop artists – and Inatci is neither. These paralinguistic codes can be related only to the inter-subjective communication needs of artist himself. The influence of Paul Klee is apparent: a way with colors and with freehand drawing is clearly perceptible. But where Klee went towards the innocent, the childish and the “happy feeling” in one form or another, Inatci seems to take matters much more seriously and his works create a very serious, implicit aura puzzling the viewer as if it were made of an array of encrypted messages to be deciphered.
It is when you pass that first impression that you notice the playfulness – and maybe an attempt at non-intellectual control of his art. When you look at his paintings, all that happens on the canvas appears to be controlled by his brain. One can imagine him considering every single aspect of what he is doing and, even though this can be called a move every artist makes, to him this is the actual reason why he paints. It is as if he were making a speech, as if he were trying to communicate a verbal message – perhaps this is why he uses transfigured language signs and sometimes you have the feeling you’re reading much more than seeing a picture.
If pushed to explain his art, he would tell you all the thinking behind it and being as he is a critic, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Through the years he perfected and deepened his approach and it is in his late art that, subconscious traits come clearly to the surface. He “incorporates” music to his art; rhythm and vibration of animist sound. “Studies on the relationship between music and painting can be traced back to the ancient history and are closely linked to the comparison between musical keys and shades of color. The development of this analogy gained impetus from the Romantic Movement, which saw in music the other-worldly ideal of spiritual purity, as yet unattained by painting.”*
He listens to music of the nature and ritual sounds of shamanic devotion and transforms his perceptions in a painting and installations. The way this happens is through the use of constantly repetitive (prosodic) signs composed with large space of colors and solid materials in his canvases. Brunches, leather, wax, bones, rope and other organic materials are now part of his art and leave a sense of the unknown, of the deep feeling of his creation. It is a step forward to add a fifth dimension, so to speak, in his intelligent ways and being effected of his intellectual elaboration of abstract symbols.
*Hajo Düchting, Paul Klee -Music as Mentor and Metaphor, Prestel Verlac, Germany 1997.
THE BURIED AND DECLARED
Reading the Cultural Memory of Umit Inatci
By: Falah. H. Shakarchi
The art experiments take their values from a certain hidden cultural containment, for the fact that culture is the artist's aware; it is his source and background. The art experiment also take their values from the ability of the creative artist himself which push him to create a private code of his own style among other styles, so the aesthetical value of his art works pointed out by achieving connection in a conceptual conventional space.
There is a group of basic features in this experiment, which should be analyzed to understand how it works; the way the artist treats his materials to compose the visible level which lead us to the invisible content. The surface divided into geometrical areas which include abstract shapes, symbolic colors and writing, these elements established especial language which belong to an effective sources field, different intellectual approaches, so we can study the experience founders through these points:
The works, comes together or similar to the ancient Iraqi clay tablets which were the first surfaces that been used for writing in the early historical knowledge periods, when man conquer and organized place according to geometry as a method to establish his unique civilizations, put the environment items and elements to use, technically through art, as a formed media to transfer knowledge, and how he pass through the Sumerian sculptures the limits of visuals, minimized the physical for the benefit of intellectual and how man composed the human shape sequentially based on reasonable basics to create imagined sample to face the natural figures in Acadians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Egyptian civilizations, as well as in Inatci's works, figures convert to make the internal (substantial) comes instead of the surface, by minimizing the heads, enlarging breasts and leaving details cause it is represent thoughts more than imitate the reality.
Affected by Plato opinions, the artist inspired his shapes systems from the idea of infinity beauties of geometrics, also from the intuition of Henry Bergson and the vision of Hegel when he said: (the idea covered by shape), this ideological background deeply affected and riches Modernity especially the works of Piet Mondrian. A person can easily notice how the artist gathered myths, Asian letters, totems and especially geometrical areas which fill by symbols to charge the surfaces with symbolic energy to express the deep metaphysic meaning.
The artist choose a special division to make composition divided into parts, based on reasonable plan, away from any traditional space limits to draw an architectural plan or a writing clay tablet, while the visual elements spread to inspire inherited systems of composition, in which he control the space dimension: place and time, in order to terminate their disability to create intuitional, unrealistic art work. Just like a kind of moving towards Geometry and interiorized the European modern abstract tendencies.
By going beyond incidental, physical and unimportant details to create his abstract shapes and keep their constructive attendance and geometrical roots by drawing pointed lines to confirm their construction and how it is away from any physical or natural source to make his own visual language, which is a kind of musical approach which we find in the musical ladder, the shapes looks free of any explanation or description duty, so figures and symbols can highly express just like a kind of intellectual predicaments which bring the details together.
Colors Symbolic side:
Inatci colors system is: flat, symbolic, pure, contrast, far from any explanation purpose and break all expectations, it is some sort of a design and architect colors so the composition become more opened to a hermeneutic possibility away from represent or describe physical shapes, Inatci deeply realized colors ability to achieve successful art works just like he create his own myth. The colors of Inatci fill the spaces between lines just like Mondrian did before, pure of his colors make us remember P. Gauguine and the Fauvism of H. Matisse who create a new colors system based on the sense priority.
Through colors, Inatci confirm his legendary and cultural buried inherited experience deep inside the human civilized memory, the nonexistence of black, the silver of the moon and the turquoise which refers to the holy legendary unity between earth and sky, so he create a dialogue that strengthen the art work ability of calling the mythical past to our contemporary time and transfer us far away to the past, as a kind of illusion game.
The writing approach:
Script got constrictive and semantic attendance, as inherited cultural symbol according to reasons connected with its period and the meaning social circulation, also he use it to increase the art notification, Inatci understand script out of its affirmative, informative limits, he use the shape of letters and words as a codec constructions side by side with other symbols in the surface to break up centers, just like what Jackson Pollock suggested in his post modernism style.
The idea's roots of Inatci creative experiment comes from ancient religions, beliefs and myths, he make his own fetishes by giving the animals shapes which appears in his works a magical depth and holy concepts linked with specific phenomenon according to social consciousness, so the divine reflected through art in a metaphysic matrix, Inatci reproduce these ideas by focusing on his mental image developing and through confirm his inclination to create new visuals based on his stylistic vision.
The critical analysis led us to discover the artist's consciousness, his existential (anthological) attitude, his sources of the dialectical concepts of inherited / contemporary and how he hard work to uncovering the humanity cultural memory to reach and exhibit the hidden old knowledge in our modern age which affected by: Digitals, Information, Media and consumption which was results of the ideological earthquake map of a disassembly strategy of Jacque Derrida and opportunity of the globalization culture which gave us the possibility of civilized dialogue and use the necessary even if it is buried to create the unique.
Erbil / Nord Iraq, 2014.
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