Nazlı Gürlek

My paintings are the performative acts of my body in various ritualistic situations. I scrutinize material, emotional and spiritual dimensions of my body together with themes such as birth, death, creation, alchemy, ecology, the cosmos and the unconscious. I am interested in developing an embodied aesthetic that reflects the here and now of authentic life experiences in order to speak of freedoms, agency, resistance and empowerment. The body for me is a fragmented one that needs to be reclaimed from the man-made systems imprisoning it. Through the artistic gesture of healing and resistance, the body puts itself together to return to a reassembled, desiring body.

I merge abstraction and figuration, as a conscious attempt at negotiating the constant dialectic and tension between womanhood as a spectacle on the one hand, and self-expression as resistance on the other. I convert physical movements, emotional states, sensations and mental monologues to visual configurations, like a choreographer arranging curves, lines and shapes at alternating rhythms. Through a self-reflexive, repetitive process rooted in the here and now of my own lived experience I collect data and measure it against natural phenomena such as gravity, liquidity, light, wind, heat and elements like water and earth. Chemical reactions are allowed to emerge by chance from the free interaction of materials within ordered frames. I sometimes invite performance artists to activate my installations. My primary influences include surrealism, mythology, archaeology, shamanic healing rituals, indigenous cultures, and feelings.

My artistic sensibility is informed by the advantage of 15 years of curatorial experience, when I had the chance to work with the most interesting feminist artists, as well as artists with particular sensibilities toward material processes of art making, at some of the most prestigious institutions such as Mardin Biennial, Arter, Borusan Contemporary in Turkey and Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle and Venice Biennial in Europe among others. Lately, I returned to a full-time art practice -my original language- in order to speak my own truth in response to some of the pressing issues of our time. I am a regular practitioner of expressive arts and dance therapy methods which all feed back into my art.