Some rare individuals in the world have the ability to see beauty in the simplest things, and their eyes seem opened to a world of aesthetics that most of us would never see. These artists can see the potential of objects, spaces, and ideas long before they are ever in a studio space. Sakir Gokcebag, a visionary Turkish artist, has embraced this modern tradition of leaving paintbrushes and canvases behind and finding media and material in the world around him. Whether it is a piece of fruit, a roll of toilet paper, or a shredded umbrella, this artist reveals a deeper meaning and value, almost effortlessly, by changing our perspective and forcing us to consider where the boundaries of art end, if they even exist at all.
Trans-Layer II (#3)
I doubt I'm alone in saying that a roll of toilet paper rarely inspires my creative spirit, but a decorative tapestry made of paper or woven fabric is considered a perfectly valid and traditional form of art. It is the associated function of this material that makes it shocking, and easy for many people to dismiss as too abstract or intentionally eccentric. We create socially acceptable constructs so easily; toilet paper can only serve one function, art should hang on walls, broken objects should be discarded. By broadening the boundaries of the acceptable, Sakir can deconstruct the original functions of objects until they are in a more elemental state, just as a crayon can be melted down into wax.
Once those traditional functions are eliminated, something new and inventive can spring forth, and the flexibility of our perception is enhanced. There has always been a serious discussion of what should be considered true art, but Gokcebag's work is undeniably creative, and it makes people look at the world around them in a new way; there is no definition of art more fundamental or valid.
Broom and Brush
The essence of creativity is to look at a problem or an object and see a new way to solve or approach it. Something as banal as a dozen brooms, which serve a very clear purpose for most people, can be used to depict and organic form, or even be considered beautiful. If you weren't immediately aware of what an object's original function was, and you saw it used in a new and creative way, you would appreciate it as an artistic achievement, rather than a bastardization of its initial intention. We are unfortunately programmed to look at the world in a specific, approved way, and when those forms are changed or deconstructed, an interesting discussion can finally begin.
Gokcebag's shoe installations are the epitome of his style. A shoe with the toe removed is garbage to most people, since its initial purpose of covering and protecting the feet can no longer be fulfilled. But as a material for a sculpture, a dynamic and perspective-altering installation can be created. Seeing these unusual applications of recognizable objects is interesting because it forces us to consider both the form and function of an object, then shatter that construct in order to analyze a piece.
Shoe Installation (#2)
His most interesting series, in my opinion, is his use of fruits and vegetables to make a visual mosaic of seemingly impossible accuracy and detail. The natural world creates forms that aren't necessarily geometric, and there are countless variables that go into the chaotic growth of an organic object. Food is something so recognizable and essential in our lives that to see it used for something besides sustenance is unnerving. Seeing it manipulated into geometric forms and aesthetically pleasing arrangements is another juxtaposition of our expectation and our reality, forcing us to widen our gaze and accept that ink and paper is not the only way to create geometrically perfect shapes.
In short, Gokcebag's work is meant to challenge the viewer by showing them things that they might interact with on a daily basis, and drag it out of its comfortable position in reality and turn it into something artistic and compelling. If everything around is has been created in some way, either naturally or artificially, then it does represent a form of an artistic process, regardless of how industrial or common that creative act is. The artist manipulates that assumed purpose into something much more interesting, and encourages viewers to see the potential for art in everything they touch. The complex world that we live in was meticulously crafted by someone, and in that way, we are all artists and observers, simultaneously sharing new ideas and displaying our prowess as creative creatures. Gokcebag simply puts his work on a pedestal, and escapes the neutral role of an observer by reinventing the overlooked creations of others into stunning works of art.
If you want to see even more of Sakir Gokcebag's explorations into the artistic world all around us, then visit his website.
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All images are copyrighted and reserved by the artist.