A black-and-white, life-sized photographic representation of the eleven players on a football team, seven standing and four crouching—the image more or less covering the entire wall of an exhibition hall. A pencilled note, referring back to the 1967 Kandu Football Team. And coming right out into midfield, a few meters in front of this painting, another image: a single figure standing, holding a ball. This figure of the goalkeeper, seen in a crouching position in the the painting at the back, is an embodiment of Emin Çizenel, whose signature appears in every work on the walls.
Here, the figures of the team constitute one sign, and the signature another, referring to the “reality” which is the cipher around which the whole exhibition revolves. From the very beginning, the viewer is pulled into the field, and because it is unclear whether the goalkeeper is playing offence or defence, is compelled to actively take up a position.
The position one takes facing the team complicates the work, because it may be that of the opposing team, of the photographer, of a spectator at the match, or of a viewer in the visual field of the exhibition. The play and playfulness in the exhibition does not only take place in this field; it is a general characteristic of the artistic language Çizenel has created, and the section of the Unofficial Teams exhibition entitled “Gold Parade” (resm-i geçit) – with its reference both to the passing by of an “official gold parade” and to the parading of gold in the “painting of its passing” (geçit resmi)
– is another of Çizenel’s ironic touches.
detail of an unfficial teams painting oil on paper 205x283cm, 2017.This “Gold Parade” collection, organized as another series within the larger series of the exhibition, can be thought of as another way of “officializing” what is unofficial. Or, if it is seen as a “painting of its passing,” (geçit resmi) it can be registered officially, as a frozen moment captured in its passage. While the works in this series are dominated by gold, which is used as a plastic material element, the rhythm and fluidity of their repeated forms and lines allow us to see them in constant movement. The use of gold here serves as a reminder that in football or in any other competitive sport, the concept of gold is associated with awards, which are symbols of official recognition.
The repeated forms in these paintings, which are adorned, or rather, touched with gold, can be seen here as triangular abstractions of the actual figures in “Unofficial Teams.” The point of origin of the triangles is related, like the painting with its photographic representation of figures, to the concept of the portrait. These triangles are made by tailors with leftover or discarded pieces of cloth from individual customers’ clothing; in Çizenel’s work, their function is transformed, as each one is conceptually associated with and evokes the identity
of a person. Beyond their being simply pieces of discarded cloth, each is turned into an abstract portrait, and depending on the forms with which it is composed, begins to represent particular or general groups of people or individuals. Çizenel’s triangles take shape in different materials—from canvas to clothing fabrics, personal notepaper to envelopes, and from paint to three-dimensional materials—but never become overloaded with unnecessary meanings which may compromise plastic solutions.
Both in the series of paintings that appear under “Golden Parade,” and in the abstract paintings of “Unofficial Teams,” the play between single and
multiplied forms conceptually reflects the play between the individual and group figurative images.
Being unregistered, unofficial, unrecognised or undocumented carries with it the danger of losing one’s memory, so official seals or stamps, touches of gold, signatures and notes of remembered moments appear on the surfaces of the paintings. With these, and with his self-portrait standing independently, Çizenel “authorizes” and makes all the materials themselves official; and at the same time, by making official what is unregistered or registering what is unofficial he ironises the concept of “unofficial teams.”
Here, with the portrait as the focal point of this exhibition, and with himself as the subject of the portrait, Çizenel, for the first time, metaphorically holds a mirror up to his own art.
The exhihibition can be viewed until the and of the August 2021 at Art Rooms Gallery.