The Problematıc Of Image, Identıty And Language İn The Works Of Mehmet Yılmaz

Mehmet Yilmaz's art, inspired by his autobiografical dynamism, is focused on the problems of image, identity, space and language which are the complications of our time; and it is formed by the search for how these problems will be expressed. Questioning the language and the components of the work and allowing them to evolve into new associations/relations seem to be the characteristic view of Yılmaz.  Therefore, this adventure brings out a unique narrative that evolves a creation suggesting the relationship with the spectator and gradually surrounds the space. This understanding which often refers to contemporary life, the artist's autobiography and the production process is integrated with a privileged perception that is far from defined codes.

It seems that Yılmaz's relationship with the theoretical field generates this view. He closely knows the breaking points of art history and the reasons behind it. The desire to pursue new challenges with practical experiences and pursuit of them with an adventurous spirit should be seen as a source of this innovative and experimental production. The boundaries of disciplines, interrelationships of them, language problems, categorizations in art, redefinitions, concepts and word games may be counted as the means by which he frequently discusses and contributes to the formation of new layers of meaning. He discusses them with a sincere manner by his intrinsic dialogues as if thinking aloud. This allows us to rethink the most ordinary details and to re-interpret it on a vague ground. Yılmaz actually wants to share with us his experiences, ideas  and aims in the mood of authenticity. This, of course, corresponds to the pure reality in which he lived. In this sense, he does not hesitate to be narrative; he subtly integrates his individual story to the current facts and testimonies with his art, and transforms them into a new story that we will follow with attention and curiosity. For this reason, it would not be wrong to say that his identity and his biography have penetrated the essence of his works.

            The art of Mehmet Yilmaz takes power from the vague and changeable ground of time based on individual and social resources. This provides them a potential of metamorphosis, which results to  a new character and codes of new searches. In this context, it is certain that his individual history is an important data for forming the principles of his own mythology. He cares about the coincidences and unstable ambiguity of our time as well as their potential to transform them in favor of himself. In fact we see that Mehmet Yilmaz establishes his stories as the building blocks of their works in a non-narrative manner and on an unstable ground by dignifying them. His self portrait in the studio, portraits of family members, colleagues, students and people around them, objects and tools - all of them are the main image sources in his close environment. He starts out to work with  them. In short, the artist expands his own world with the closest beings at first. However, the fact that his works represent them at first sight does not surely mean that his issue of art consists of just them.

It is obvious that the main problem of artists, especially postmodern artists, is the ontological problems of art. In this context, dealing with the problems of being reduced to the language problems has become important. It seems that Yilmaz also tends to look at the language from outside, to play with its structure, to create a heterogeneous structure through associations with the other, to bring alternative constructions from the interlocutor relations. In a new context, the artist re-associates different experiences by starting from his repertoire; and he transforms the effort to make a basis for the alteration of language  in his favor.

In the works of Mehmet Yılmaz, the language is based on the relations and contexts that we have ignored because of certain boundaries we built for years. The major signs in his art are the dilemmas such as photograph-painting, image-title and painting-sculpture. Two canvases which are hinged each other... Digital image on the left, painted image on the right ... I mean, printwork and paintwork. Presenting these images produced with different techniques as parts of a single work... There is basically a structural difference on these images although they are very similar to each other. In fact, this difference and dilemma makes the audience confused and amazed and leads them to think and question on the work. Thus, the opportunities have been created for the viewer to think the whatness of the language. Presenting the materials as if they were the same, the artist directs the viewer to look for alternative options beyond the work. To think about the nature of art, to ask questions, to point to their togetherness, and to put an end to artificial boundaries built between languages provide the viewer to see the big picture. This is a suggestion of an equivalence between the languages instead of a hierarchy. That's the reason why the series is called as Twins.

The artist's search for options manifests itself also in the exhibition process of the work. Thanks to their foldability, these canvases have been shifted to an experimental area such as they are placed in the ground like a sculpture and able to relate to other works in the space. This allows the artist to construct an identity that fits his own story and mythology. It should not be neglected that the fact that he is a 'confused narrator' and sincerely involves his individual life into the process while creating his identity. So, there is art if trouble and artist exist.

Yılmaz takes this approach, which is related to language and identity, to a different level in Friends series, expanding the field a bit further. The origin of the images is also the close environment of the artist, even the tools he uses. The visualization technique is also the same. However, the fact that the names of the works are irrelevant to the images causes the viewer to think about a different theme than Twins. The artist says that such a nomination is arbitrary, accidental and intentional. But it seems that the reason of this is our social responsibilities and our experience in this geography, rather than a momentary preference.

Yılmaz, as an artist who has always made social observations and determinations a part of his art and expressed his critical stance clearly, now focuses on the dilemmas such as Iranian-Arab, Turk-Kurd, Secular-Religious, Sunni-Alevi, Muslim- Christian, Istanbulit-Diyarbakırian, English-German, Turk-Armenian. We should remember that he has a decisive history and art related to politics. From this point of view, it should not be surprising to say that the attitude here is nurtured by a political attitude. The artist here include his sterile-in-mind ideas in the work without showing them on the surface. By opposing the idea that the name of work is something outside of the work, the artist transforms the name into an inseparable element directly serving the content of the work. So the name, in fact, articulates certain ideas that are not related to the work, and brings it to a new dimension.

When Yilmaz speaks about these works, he draws attention to the geographical, global and cultural dilemmas and contradictory deformations, which are hard to understand, of the society we live in. And the artist also points out the strange relationship between art and life, by saying that "these pictures were made within such nonsensical circumstances." However, by drawing attention to the circumstances, he implies that the names representing the works are as important as the works themselves and there would be a flaw on thinking without them. In my opinion, these names have become integral parts of the work in conceptual sense. The indifference of the name to the image makes the work more typical and privileged and gives a conceptual feature to it.

The artistic adventure of Yılmaz has been formed in the field where painting and sculpture intersects. His works are the product of a process interacting between the two. So it is no surprise that these relationships now evolve into installations by integrating with space. Yılmaz is very open to experimental searches in terms of language while he is very loyal to the experiences of his own individual history. His re-thinking on the themes he has worked in the past adds new formal possibilities to his art. In this sense, the series of Those Looking Through The Glass, which he had executed in the 1990's, was particularly striking. In that series, he was interested in the images of face and hands leaning on the glass, or more precisely, the flattened parts of those limbs. The Heymimres series, which bears his latest works, is something like that the re-emergence of an unfinished story, that the resuscitation of the spirit in new bodies. This is a series where a wide range of disciplines, materials and techniques meet - from planar forms to three-dimensional forms, from hiperrealist and abstract expressionist painting methods to the experience of carpentry, his father's profession.

Heymimres is both the sum and the summary of Yılmaz's art. The works in the series are embodied as real sub-spaces in a real space. Case by case, it consists of constructions which can be visited, readable, photographed and viewed other part of space through the glass. The visitor is free to be a part of the interactive works. Each work has a number and a special name. In Heymimres-1 (An Artist & A Journalist), for example, you see the artist's self image as the hiperrealist sculpture along with the images of his books, works and notes in the room space. The exterior surfaces of the room are considered and painted like the walls with worn-out posters. Just like the others in the series, this is also a meeting of ‘subjective and objective’, ‘me and us’, ‘material and intellectual’.
As a result, it appears that Mehmet Yilmaz's art has been shaped through his special experiences along with the image, identity and space that have become the main problems of our time. As they evolve into a privileged and original language by specific and persistent inquiries, with a new point of view, we are summoned to rethink some issues ranging from the personal life to the cultural and artistic problems of the our time and geography.