Çiğdem Aky explores in her gestural painting the relationship between color (the meaning and the metaphor) and gesture (the physical, the touch) as her formal language revolves around these two elements that run consistently through her series of works.
Using the wet-on-wet technique, a vertically oriented rectangular surface stands pillar-like in the center, framed by curved areas of color, as she gesturally superimposes color surfaces. The focus of her color studies is a search for the autonomy and effect of color, which has completely detached itself from the object and its transcendental quality. At first glance when viewing her work, it seems as if one is confronted with a repeating image throughout, yet the artist creates a new and unprecedented visual experience with each study.
The artist chooses her colors intuitively, inspired by everyday impressions - a landscape, a painting, or the lighting conditions at a particular time of day. In doing so, she concentrates on the depiction of her sensory impressions and further develops the colorfulness, which has completely detached itself from the figure or the object as a source. Her groups of works are all created through the fluid fusion of various acrylic and oil paints, which the artist superimposes and then paints over gesturally with a brush. In the process, one color tone instinctively introduces the next.
A recurring compositional characteristic is a rectangle placed in the center of each painting, which she carefully tapes off before applying the colors with a broad brush, and subsequently blending them. The distinct geometric shape is further framed in a second step by broad, vital areas of color on the outer margins, which opens the center outward to the sides. The center is often further separated from the periphery of the painting by a narrow border, which intensifies the luminosity of the colors within. For the painter, these color studies are central of her overall work. In the process of mixing the wet colors, she captures their metamorphosis.
From an art-historical perspective, the detachment of color from the object is found beginning primarily in the 19th century works of the Impressionists, and later in 20th century Fauvism, and the color field painting of the Abstract Expressionists. As stated by the painters Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler, who made the transition from Abstract Expressionist painting to color field painting, all color phenomena and impressions, as well as states of mind, can be captured in their individual atmosphere with the autonomy of color abstraction. The figure is no longer necessary for this. Çiğdem Aky has also completely freed herself from the distraction of the figurative, stating that the figure in any case had only the function of a vessel. The painter concentrates on an unfolding of the essence of painting: color and its seemingly endless combinations and ongoing developments. Painting is consistently repeated as a gesture, which she varies sometimes playfully or concentrated and other times in matte or glossy surface in picture after picture, shifting between predictability and chance.
The group of works "Miami Calling" (2018 to 2021) reflects the visual impressions Aky gained in the urban Miami landscape, which she applied to an unprocessed image carrier created from cotton. Each of the works in the series is in a direct dialog, as the chosen bright colors reflect one another. Densely and finely, the artist blends the hues and tones to create fluid transitions between warm and cool colors. The outer surfaces are mixed with white and gray magnifying the luminosity of the central surface in contrast to the subtler coloring of the periphery. Titles such as "Autokino“ (Drive-in Cinema) (2021), "A Beautiful Day" (2021), or "Der Duft des Meeres” (Scent of the Sea) (2021) only hint at the source of feelings that the painter expresses associatively with color. The dramatic progression of colors, created by dense brushstrokes and smooth transitions in the center of the painting, varies for instance from black to bright red or eccentric green to strong blue.
The nuances in pastel tones intensify the luminosity of the painting. The rectangle in the center automatically draws the eye through the dynamic color area and informs the direction of view from top to bottom. This creates an effect of spatiality, giving the illusion of insight and perspective. In addition, through the layering of the colors and the shiny surface structure, a movement emerges. From the color fields and gradients, the gesture of the painter is inferred: slow, controlled, and curved.
The series “Metamorphosen“ (Metamorphoses) (2018-2020) can be seen as a reduced and graphic variation. The composition is built up from intertwined geometric structures in bright colors characteristically arranged around the ubiquitous central rectangular form. In addition to the static rectangle, which the painter now varies in length and width, anchoring the center of the picture is the separation of the individual geometric shapes from each other with a contrastingly fine line. One color tone of the individual geometric shapes defines the next, applied in dense layers, giving an impression of graphics painted by a computer. The individual color tones, which Aky orchestrates in contrasts and harmonies, convey an overarching structure and vast depth. The works in this series are titled "Rearrangement" underlining the painter's intention to search curiously and (visionarily..) for new structures in which color and formal language harmonize in an autonomous, contrasting, and yet unified whole.
Çiğdem Aky (*1989 in Munich) lives and works in Munich. She studied painting and graphic arts at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich and the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe. In 2017 she completed her studies as a master's student with Prof. Dorner. After beginnings in representational painting (portraits, interiors, landscapes), the young painter has devoted herself entirely to abstract painting since 2013. More