LIFE & WORK
Şinasi Bozatli was born in 1962 in Ankara. His talent and eye for forms and gestural line were recognised by his family early in his life, and they supported his choice to study art. He studied painting and graphics at Gazi University in Ankara, completed his studies in Oswald Oberhuber’s master class at the Vienna University of Applied Arts. What forged his skills as a painter and sculptor were his astounding endurance, a feeling for rhythm, and self-discipline – indispensible preconditions and prerequisites for the artist. The monumental sculpture Communication (1985, cast concrete, height 450 cm) in front of the Press Centre in Ankara is visible from afar as it stretches a raised hand to heaven: open for encounters, a gesture of reconciliation, a proposal for understanding and exchange between cultures. The strenuous work of sculpture was gradually superseded by painting. In 1986 Bozatli made Vienna the centre of his life and work; later he also spent periods of his life and work in his studio on Long Island (New York) and in Bodrum (Turkey). Mediterranean and maritime cultures and landscapes dominate the spiritual and atmospheric foreground of his visual imagery. Things that constantly recur, the timeless, mythical creatureliness, human incarnation focus his consciousness on becoming aware of the enigmas of existence. Wassily Kandinsky coined the term “Gehirnakte” for this – brain acts. Bozatli lives, thinks and works in this Now, with its moments of intensive being-here, indeed, of manifestbeing. His works are as much a pause as they are a dynamic forward progress; they are antithetical to the laws of dynamics inherent in societies based on consumerism and capital. In the painting process, Bozatli is on a quest for moments, in which the human self-rises up out of the stereotype collective, becomes aware of the immediacy of transience.
In his "City Maps" the observations and memories collected in his mind are spatially paced to and fro until the brushstroke collides with uneven areas and breakages. These indentations are haptic, tactile in the surface texture as vestiges of the past. Snow mellows the quintessential values of local colours and covers the city with a soundless veil of softness: Christmas in new York (2013, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm) atomises the Statue of Liberty into particles of weightlessness and hope for peace. Long expeditions in the landscape of South Africa, journeys to Cuba, South Korea and Japan and other places, also sojourns in Bodrum, Istanbul and his studio on Long Island do not aim to endow topographical correctness to his visual perceptions, but are far more intensifications of an abstraction process.
On his trips to Africa in the 1990s he crossed the threshold to a spiritual journey. In its aesthetics of brittleness and reduction, of solitariness, of being driven, the landscape formation lends sombre veneers to the pictures of these years. A game of hide-and-seek, of approaching and rejection, the sensuous desire for the untouched, for the unhewn wilderness spurs Bozatli on. The yearning for transcendence leads the portrayal of the human figure in its exposed nakedness into dramatic situations. Bozatli’s interest is for the crossing of thresholds. As a cosmopolitan he is underway in the transit space of temporal turning points. In his picture cycles, he invites us to accompany him a short section along his path as passengers .
While Bozatli’s painting has moved increasingly from the representational to the abstract, recurring motifs are inscribed into his way of thinking as a painter: the existential, mental position of being within and towards the relativity of the sky, of the seas; supporting and connecting elements like posts, struts and bridges. The sea – the blue planet in its sublime homelessness becomes a magical elixir of life, always moving, indomitable, and for Bozatli of a familiarity heavy with yearning. The endlessness of the oceans envelops continents, blurs the intermingling of different temporal perspectives. The colour pigments of the water surfaces absorb the light, dovetail with each other, exchange glances. The sea and the sky reflect each other covertly, as though introverted, conversant with their own destiny. Composition and arrangement/ordering of supporting piles, props and semi-circular formations give the pictures structure and orientation in the cosmic round, peel connecting lines and contact surfaces out of the painting ground. The sea was an enticement for Claude Monet. The sea is one of the key motifs in William Turner’s painting, a key model for Şinasi Bozatli. He overleaps the distance bounded by the protected observation of coastal landscapes; he steps into the water, tries to merge with it. The primal, quintessential motion of nature is transposed into the primal, quintessential motion of brush and colour structure. Like Turner, Bozatli explored the boundaries of form in creation.
Various phases of work and creativity document the wide-ranging and yet concentrated and sharpened form of expression in painting technique and the approach to themes and questions of existential being. We can identify cycles in his oeuvre continue to develop organically, that are locational specifications of his experiences and his way of thinking as a painter. Resolution processes become visible out of the circles, the so-called “Verkettungen” (1997), Concatenations.
The imagery does not connote captivity and constraint, but the geometric abutments fit into the space, surrounding space, become environments, snatch at corporeal presence, demand from observers that they reflect on and apprehend perception as a process. Polarity and oppositeness of energies and rhythms are necessary for a determinant that would make an otherwise uniform mass petrify into inertia and standstill. Bozatli prefers to work on a firm substrate, especially on jute, so as to whip thick layers onto the easel with energetic wielding of the brush. In Bozatli’s Sun goes down into the sea (2014, acrylic on jute, 140 x 120 cm) the hues of colour combine into a single grandiose symphonic resonance, their mean value being varieties of blue. The turbulence of the elements reflects the longings that the human being conceals in his inner being.
Traces of the texture evoking the watery consistency of the continents emerge from the spatial depths of the painted surface. Wind wafts away the colours like crests of surf, becomes a flowing mass, opens up a free view onto a space lying behind. The embarkation into a way of seeing that does not reproduce reality but hints at it is imminent. The contours are distinct and firm but vibrate like timelines and structures of a plan for living. The sounds resonating from the watery masses move the atmosphere and the surface tension of the compositional diffusions of form, colour and light. The forces set against concatenations and supporting struts actuate the dimension that safeguards the picture from hurtling into cosmic chaos. The struts aspiring to the vertical give support and stability to boundlessness. Polyphonic colours challenge each other, expand and intensify the reciprocating antagonisms, the tensions and reanimations of heights and depths.
Bozatli's current imagery results from these area-wide, high-contrast color tracks. Inspired by the New York skyline and its reflection in the Hudson River, his paintings are given a new shape. The colored beams turn into skyscrapers in diffuse light or flank a sunrise or sunset. Often the artist intentionally sets a "flatline" in the middle of the painting ground, whereupon he lets the geometric shapes grow mirror-like up and down. He strives for a lightness, indeed infinity, which he obtains both in the duality and in the outbound colors of his formations. Through titling, the artist also creates a bridge of perception to the images and brings us closer to the hidden. The viewer recognizes a ship at sea, the seabed, a harbor, pier piles in the water or water reflections as well as outlines of Venice, New York and Istanbul. They are dramatic scenes or meditative quiet poles. Again, Bozatli shows an interplay of feelings between narrowness and breadth, birth and death. In this way, the trigger of an impulsive emotion in its dramatic expressiveness is transformed into a painterly parable.