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The Painting of the Unconscious


21 SEPTEMBER 2021 - 30 OCTOBER 2021

Pilot Gallery is happy to host Murat Şahinler's solo exhibition titled "The Painting of the Unconscious" after 7 years. The exhibition brings together Şahinler’s recent works. Şahinler's paintings, which he defines as a “generational painting”, refer to a "generation" both as stylistically and temporally. The works produced with reference to “generational painting” with a formal affinity as well as to the artist's own generation, point to an intricate/multi-layered grammar.


The Painting of the Unconscious takes its name from Lacan. Lacan defines the unconscious as the knowledge that doesn’t know itself, this exhibition is constituted of agents that can enable the thinking process on the things that we don’t know that we don’t know. The unconscious can be defined as information that exists in the mind but cannot be accessed (repressed), but what is it that we do not know what we do not know? For example, if there are galaxies that even our most advanced telescopes cannot reach, we don’t know them, nor do we know that we do not know them. We think that there may be galaxies that we do not know yet. Or even if there are sub-electron particles, their existence and their laws of behavior are inaccessible to us. We do not know that we do not know them. We only consider their possibility to exist, what might happen, but we don't accept them axiomatically or base our hypotheses on that probability. Şahinler highlights that don’t knowing that you don’t know happens when the unknown does not exist in the symbolic order, in language, that is "Real" in the Lacanian terms. In this sense, Şahinler's paintings act outside of a painting grammar (should we say a self-aware painting?).


The exhibition refers to a subject who thinks on or with painting. The subject has a halting rhythm. If this exhibition has a music, it contains disruptions that cannot be expressed in western music, the figures bounce. In this sense, it is possible to think of each figure in the exhibition as a projection of sound. Figures hang on the gallery walls in a way that resembles the composition of musical notes… We are looking at a fragmental whole/music that does not repeat itself, progresses in a certain rhythm. On the other hand, we are also facing a regard that wants to eliminate the excesses of the painting/text/time and moves towards a void. Paintings, as in Surnames, want to keep the record of the time with a frugal attitude. Time both points to a temporality that the artist witnesses, and characters/events from 100 years ago infiltrate into these paintings. As such, we pass through a time which is folding, expanding and jamming. Sostakovic on the one hand, Orson Welles on the other, laughter, grunts, leaks from these paintings. 


As in miniature paintings, two-dimensional, shadowless characters are the most fundamental commonality in his new paintings. Each of them is drawn at the same height with us, hung right in front of us and we only see the figures from the waist up. As if Şahinler says: “It is these ideal bodies that will establish the ideal society envisioned by the modern world”. Yet, we see that whatever the rational/modern mind idealizes is slowly decaying. Everything is undermined in these pictures. Science produces rockets/missiles, the desire for the ideal body, Hitler invokes fascism. The world of ideals seems to have come to an end; We are now in another age where wars and social tensions are on the rise. We're looking at a murder scene which rings with laughter. 


Paintings float in space without gravity; both time and space are erased from the background. These are subtracted images just waiting to be identified through bodies, faces, and gestures. Their noise has been erased, their excesses have been removed, they have remained bare. Now -and thus- it has become possible to connect all these references, to read the engineers and ordinary violence in photo novels side by side. In the world of Şahinler, the good, the bad, the goons and the geniuses are lined up like a chessboard. However, the roles can change, transform into one another. The moment all these paintings are crystallized is the work called “The principle of moments”, in which more than 30 characters come together. It is as if we are witnessing a show; yellow vests, miners, proletarians, power figures; Christine Lagarde, oil-rich Arabs, fashion designers, bankers… In the middle, there are the anti-monarchists who are stuck between these two groups, and the healthcare workers who are fighting heroically during the pandemic process. These paintings, sometimes noisy and sometimes silent, present a multidimensional, extremely personal and yet general panorama of our time.


You can visit Murat Şahinler's exhibition titled "The Painting of the Unconscious" at Pilot Gallery until the end of October.

Murat Şahinler