Mehmet Ali Uysal: BLOCK

London

Pi Artworks London is pleased to announce Ankara-based Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal's first UK solo exhibition. Last year, Uysal was invited to create new work for the 2014 European City of Culture, Umea, Sweden and his best-known public sculpture SKIN, that is situated in Chaudfontaine Park, Liege, Belgium, was included in a top-ten list of public art commissions compiled by The Independent newspaper. 

 
An artist with the training of an architect, Mehmet Ali Uysal instinctively likes to toy with his audiences' preconception of the gallery space as well as how they move around it. To do this he creates large-scale installations that are integrated into the architecture of the gallery within which they are situated.  Subsequently, the walls' layers of cement and plaster no longer function as fixed and intractable protecting structures, but rather they become soft and malleable strips. Acting as the artist's medium, these once-solid forms begin to mimic the skin of a dissected body that is flexible enough to be literally pinched, scored, parted, ripped, folded or torn off.  In previous work, anonymous bodies try to break free from underneath the elasticated walls (Untitled, 2010) or clothes pegs of varying sizes pinch the surface (Untitled, 2013). In the Peel series (2012), sections of plaster are separated from the bare bricks underneath, contorting into spiral forms or becoming like a book's pages about to be turned. 
 
Today, the process of creating, exhibiting and perceiving contemporary art is deeply intertwined with the austere, white-walled gallery space that continuously erases traces of its own history in order to appear impervious. Uysal both plays on and inverts this tradition by interfering directly with the structure of the white cube and deconstructing both its formal characteristics and inherited traditions. The juxtaposition of gallery and work is dissolved and the relationship of one to the other is rendered fluid. 
 
The work created for BLOCK retains the artist's recognizably mischievous approach, but takes the form of discrete, sculptural objects. Instead of grand gestures integrated into the space, the viewer is confronted by contorted and deformed concrete pillars, stone blocks and square wall sections that are strewn across the floor as well as pinned to the wall for appraisal like caught animals. Mehmet Ali's subject matter, the contemporary art gallery, has been cut up and transformed into a series of specimens disengaged from their original context. 
 
Mehmet Ali Uysal's solo exhibitions include The Past, Pearl Lam Gallery, Shanghai, China (2014); Pinch Me Awake, Stiftungstarke, Berlin, Germany (2013); Painting, Pi Artworks, Istanbul, Turkey (2013); Peel at the Nesrin Esirtgen Collection, Istanbul, Turkey (2012); Malist at Q Contemporary, Beirut, Lebanon (2011); and Mist at Etemad Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2011). Group exhibitions and art fair participation include Art Basel Hong Kong (2013); Eyeballing at the Ankara Contemporary Arts Centre, Turkey (2012); and Figure Out at Art Saw, Dubai, UAE (2012); as well as Trade Routes at Pi Artworks Istanbul, Turkey (2011). He has given speaking presentations at events such as Kaleidoscope Europe, Ankara, Lisbon (2009) and BAUHAUS IMPACT, Ankara, Weimar (2009) as well as the XVIIth International Congress of Aesthetics, Ankara, Turkey (2007). 
 
His work can be found in numerous private and public collections in his native Turkey, including, Istanbul Modern Collection, Vehbi Koç Foundation Collection,  Ozyegin University Collection and the Demiroren Collection. International collections include Le Vent Des Forets Festival Public Collection, Meuse, France; Chaufontaine Parks Public Collection, Liege, Belgium; Audi Collection (Audi Bank Lebanon) Beirut, Lebanon; Golden Harvest Group Art Collection, India; Samdani Art Foundation, Bangladesh and the City of Umea, Sweden Collection (2014 Culture Capital of Europe), Sweden. 
 
BLOCK will be accompanied by a symposium on Turkish contemporary art at SOAS, University of London in which the artist will give a presentation. 
 
Contemporary Turkish Art Today, Organised by the SOAS Turkish Society 13 February, 14:00-16:00
 
DLT (Djam Lecture Theatre), 
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London
WC1H0XG