özdemir altan

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Tomur Atagök's Opening Address at the Presentation of


    at the Osman Hamdi hall at the Academy

"We have just witnessed the realization of an important artistic event by Özdemir Altan on a panel of 30 square meters in Osman Hamdi Hall, Mimar Sinan University, where, as a result of strange coincidences, in 1971 he exhibited a pair of large tapestries, 24 square meters each, created for the Istanbul Radio House, since than remaining out of sight although it was "an achievement not to be repeated either by me or anyone else", as he once remarked.

The work executed on October 24, 1988, was a multi-dimensional application on a large-scale surface. As it is known, the artist has been stating consistently in the past few years, that the elements which make up an art work are formed by divergent logic, origin and structure and has been tying the rich productivity of polyphony in Western thought not to "harmony" , but to the different sounds living together to form a positive existence.

Again, according to the artist, the "harmony" (uyum), which is "our trouble", with its association with "to get along together" or "to agree" (uyuşma), or even "numbness" (uyuşukluk) and "to sleep" (uyuma) causes art to barely exist on the surface.

In the moment when the elements of art are brought together, the "whole" is turned into a well-behaving, orderly existence, and even, is destroyed within reserved relations through harmony. Then, Art, to be true for all pursuits of art, is the ability to get all divergent materials within their disjunct relations in order to construct depth and multi-dimensions.

Özdemir Altan finalized his last work upon this concept as a manifesto in front of a large audience. While all kinds of technical, material and thought differences were being used in the work, this time Altan united art objects, prepared by 10 young artists and brought to him that very morning, to destroy limits and open up the distances among the elements in the space of a large surface.

During the day, the art objects he either specially prepared or had collected over the years, along with the art objects brought to him, took their unplanned places with utmost sincerity on a surface prepared a day before in a free brush technique in front of an interested audience.

For the first time, in an environment where art is consistently made up of elements of little differences or even with exact qualities, an artist took action to exemplify that disjunct structures and logic make the essence of art.

Along with these, while the capacity shown to install different logics - one of Altan's principal themes - takes the lead, eleven artists' different personalities, including his own, reach to peak performance with Altan's participation.

While Altan is searching for multi-dimension in every way in this spontaneous act, he states, "We cannot force meaning into our work; we have to let the work create its own meaning." As those who follow the contemporary world of art know, starting with Dada, in almost all art trends, artists, especially Pop artists, have thought the "common" as an art object, destroying the art's sacredness and directing the viewers' attention to daily objects. While Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol put forward the objects produced for the consumption of everyone as art objects, Rauschenberg has created works containing both two and three dimensions together.

However, while lately human being, in fact, the artist himself, has undertaken functions within art activity, with a different approach Altan has used a person as an element of art.

Özdemir Altan, constructing an activity that is not recorded before, was showing here how objects with different origins could take place within an art work on a large surface including the third dimension, rather than organizing an "happening".

His activity to unite other artists' works and participation was not directed to sheer demonstration as in a happening, but to prove that divergent thoughts and esthetic understandings could take place within an art work. With this purpose, a human being in action, his grandson was installed in the work.

The child who would soon be running in the work was to show that the work is not definitive, but just the opposite; it can be changed any moment. Here the child's running is not an art activity in an happening, but a demonstration of the rightness of artistic elements anywhere in the work.

We are witnessing one of the vanguards that a society hopes for, once more in the personality of Özdemir Altan. What a joy it is to those who can move mountains!

Tomur Atagök

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