May 12-June 19, 2016
Thursday, May 12, 6-8 p.m.
Sapar Contemporary inaugurates its new space in Tribeca with an exhibition featuring the work of Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal. A newcomer on the New York art scene, the gallery invited Uysal to interact with its newly renovated space, on the ground floor of 9 North Moore Street. Internationally recognized for his playful reevaluations of the white cube, Uysal has transformed the space into a whimsical three-dimensional sculpture that poses subtle yet forceful questions about physical and emotional boundaries, both concrete and metaphysical—and about being at home in one’s own skin.
At the center of Uysal’s practice are the place of the individual and the authority of materiality in today’s rapidly changing environment. Whether referencing rapid urbanization, along with its displacement of individuals and communities, or the growing materiality and object-focused art market, the individual is at the core of Uysal’s entrancing body of work.
From outdoor landscapes to gallery walls and picture frames, Uysal creates key parallels between physical surfaces and the sensory pulse of the human skin, malleable enough to be pinched, ripped, contorted, and torn off. His installations alter our perception of spaces as containers for personal and collective memory, evoking our relation to authority and even our own identity.
In a site-specific work commissioned especially for the Sapar gallery, and a new addition to Uysal’s “Peel” series, a wall sliding down the stairs reveals echoes of the building’s past lives, captured behind the exposed cement. The picture frames of “Suspended” lose their original function as borders marking the limits of an artwork to become deformed specimens hung on the wall for appraisal like hunting trophies.
Deceptively simple, his installations capture an improbable balance between movement and stillness, gravity and ephemerality. The 2011 “Untitled” series reveals liminal traces of a human silhouette apparently attempting to break through the confines of a ghostly white wall. In “Skin, 2013,” the main wall of the gallery is scattered with clothespins that seem to pinch its surface. (An outdoor version of “Skin,” a six-meter high clothespin pinching the grass, was named one of the ten most important public artworks by the UK’s Independent.)
Nina Levent, Director of Sapar Contemporary, compares Uysal’s work to visual haiku that question our perception of matter and the boundaries between physical objects and ourselves. “His art is subversive and persistent in its refusal to give the viewer any identity, or regional or personal clues, and yet in this very act it is loaded with meaning.”