Lale Delibaş’s Works at Borusan Contemporary
Lale Delibaş whose works are featured in various private collections and whose exhibition record includes Borusan Contemporary, Zorlu Beymen, Elgiz Art Museum and Mardin Biennial, participates to the Borusan Contemporary collection exhibition “Desire” with two artworks: “Untitled” and “Pinocchio”. The artist writes a passage from Leyla Erbil’s book “The Remaining” on the wall where one of her works in the collection, “Untitled”, is installed. Delibaş who thus builds a new space for the canvas creates an interesting fusion by combining shamanic texts on the canvas with the religious texts on the wall. The combination of text and artwork is not new to Delibaş. In the majority of her works the visual is accompanied by the written and they interact. It is exactly here that it overlaps with the theme of “Desire” in search of different integrities of “meaning” and “concept”. Some works in the exhibition can only be discovered by attentive viewers. Like Lale Delibaş’s mini sculpture, Pinocchio. Visit Borusan Contemporary until February 21 2016 to notice the details and to appreciate Leyla Erbil’s literary taste via visual arts curated by Necmi Sönmez.
But before that, we suggest you read the conversation we had with Lale Delibaş on her artistic practice. We asked her about the seaming technique she often uses in her works that also gives her a conceptual direction to pursue. We were curious about the various cultures that inspire her as a result of her research activities and the reason why she always used white in her canvases. Delibaş explained in all its detail her artworks hiding stories behind their white surfaces. Do not miss the artist’s story ranging from the concept of reincarnation to Shamanism.
The most outstanding aspect of your work is perhaps your use of the sewing technique. What is this technique exactly? For how long have you been using it and what does it mean to you?
Sewing is a manual technique based on the needle and the thread which I use for creating my works on canvas.
If I am going to build a pattern on canvas, I first design the pattern in accordance with this technique and then transfer it onto the canvas. If I am going to use sewing and embedding simultaneously, I use sewing to intervene on parts of the composition I hide behind the elastic fabric, with spontaneous decisions I make as the work is in progress.
I use sewing technique since 2004. Beyond being a technique, it is also important for me with what it conceptually symbolizes.
Once a canvas with sewing is hung on the wall, we know that the composition on the front is also transferred onto the back thanks to this technique and is strongly clinged on its carrying surface.
For me this action of “going beyond” and “clinging strongly” are conceptually equivalent to the plant-earth, man-earth relationship.
Within this relationship there is not only a situation of “unification” or of “becoming part of each other”, but also one of entering an endless cycle of life and death for the plant and the human. The plant dying and mixing with the soil and the new mix giving rise to a new life or the tree’s connection to the ground with its trunk and branches and its connection to the underground with its roots, have been the symbol of rebirth since the most primitive periods of human history.
“The act of sewing” also has a particular meaning for me as an “action” in itself. The needle and the thread’s journey from the canvas’s front side to the back side again and again can be compared to the human being’s journey between this world and the other world. For me the act of sewing is the symbolic expression of “rebirth”, of an endless, eternally repeated cycle of being born into this world and being burried underground once dead.
Which stages have you gone through since adopting this technique? How did it change and evolve?
Since I see the technique and the concept as a whole I have to answer this question by explaining the conceptual stages I have been through as well. When I first started I used it as an intervention technique on the abstract compositions embedded behind the canvas. During this stage I focused on concepts such as “existence”, “death”, “senses”, “perception” and “reality”.
As I proceeded with my research into these concepts, in addition to these I also became interested in the concept of “rebirth”. Thus I began to create canvases with texts where I used the sewing technique more intensely. The texts I selected included the concepts I worked on as well.
As I added the concept of “rebirth” to the range of concepts that shaped my works, conducting research in how this concept was handled by various cultures, communities and beliefs became inevitable. Although it is generally described in a simple way with symbolic depictions, these depictions had very deep conceptual meanings. My canvases with motifs thus emerged. This can also be defined as “embroidery”. I adapted the motifs to this technique and embroided them onto the canvas.
In your opinion what are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the seaming technique? We know it is very demanding in terms of patience.
If you work for long hours without a break your fingers hurt, your back and your neck ache and your eyes get too tired.One of the rewarding aspects is obviously the result you get. The other reward for me is the meditative process, despite all the difficulties I have mentioned above.
Your canvases are nearly always white. Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning of white in your artistic practice? Why white?
From a conceptual perspective, white is a color associated with the soul. White is what it is; I mean it is as it is. Perhaps this is why it is often associated with the soul. It cannot hide its dirt once it is dirty.
Technically, on the other hand, a parallel concept emerges. It reveals what i.s hidden underneath or what is seamed on top of it, with the light or the shadow hitting it, in other words it cannot hide it eitheri, just like it cannot hide itself.
White surely changes color after a while depending on the environment surrounding it. Is this process a part of your works too? Or would you like to be able to periodically repaint your works?
Once we associate white with the “soul” it is inescapable that it becomes dirty as time passes. The problem of “changing color” or “turning yellow” happens to all colors; but white cannot hide it. Consequently, the change of color in the artworks is a process parallel to the underlying concept.
You say you produce “tactual” canvases. What does it exactly mean? Does the viewer have to touch the artwork?
“Tactual canvas” means that it can be perceived not only through vision but also through touch. What makes this aspect of my works impotant to me is that I regard them as a caution that comes from the thinking pattern “What if I lose my eyes, how am I going to perceive my canvases?”
In general terms this is also about human beings being able to understand the outer world only as much as they can perceive it. In addition to the problem of us perceiving the reality of the outer world with the capacity of our sensory organs, they are the only tools to do so. If one of our senses is missing, things that can be perceived only through that organ, things that exist for us in a way, lose their reality as well.
By saying “tactual canvases” I wanted to point at their sensory possibilities, at their degree of demanding existence, rather than saying “touch them”. For those who can perceive the “tactual canvases” with their eyesight, the touch is not necessary.
In your works you research the belief systems in various cultures. Can you talk about these research processes and what you encoıuntered as a result? Which cultures influence you and inspire you the most?
In my ongoing research I saw that nearly all belief systems contain common elements as if having come out of the same mold, although they are encountered in different geographical locations.
Going back in history, the culture that influenced me the most has been “Shamanism”. All beliefs after or even before it carry something from it. For instance in my “Shamanic Drum” piece I noticed a very big similarity between the depiction of Shaman and the crucifiction of Jesus. This Shamanic depiction has also been used in Shamanism as the Representation of Three Worlds, symbolizing the “underworld-earth-sky”. This cosmogonic respresentation means that shaman as well as all the living things will be reborn, again and again.
This and many other similarities must be the consequence of Shamanism taking its origin from nature as in beliefs of all primitive societies. The close relationship between Nature and beliefs must be the result of human beings being unable to make sense of natural phenomena and consequently attributing them to gods, and interpreting natural disasters such as scarsity, draught and earthquakes as their punishment upon them.
Any other point you would like to add?
I can briefly talk about the variety of techniques I employ in my work.
I see technique as a tool of expression. Depending on the conceptual aspect of the work I also make use of media like video, sculpture and installation in addition to canvas. It is important for me to choose the technique and the material most suitable for the concept I want to point at, and to create my works accordingly.
Thank you very much for this enjoyable conversation, Lale. We wish you all the best in your career.
Click to see works by LALE DELİBAŞ on Art50.net