Number of Pages
23,5 x 30,5 cm
1st Press: Istanbul, 2020
Özlem İnay Erten
“You are but a dream, a dream in the pitch black night, a dream in broad daylight,
a dream barely there and gone…”
Bozlu Art Publications presents “Mehmet Uygun: The Garden of Earthly Delights”, a detailed rendering of the life and art of Mehmet Uygun, a leading artist in figure painting in Turkey with his unique use of colour and fantastic universe. Authored by art historian Oğuz Erten, the book focuses on Uygun’s painting series “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, which he terms “an animal encyclopaedia of sorts”, created over a span of twenty years.
A testament to not only the creativity, but also artistic prowess and long-term productivity of Mehmet Uygun, the 77-painting “Garden of Earthly Delights” series constructs an alternative world depicting fantastic figures in the shape of part-human part-animal hybrids steeped in metaphor. Taking its name from Hieronymus Bosch’s (1450-1516) famous triptych containing his depictions of “heaven and hell”, the painting series stands as an artist’s attempt at looking at the same conceptual dichotomy almost five centuries later, from the vantage point of the present. Hearkening back to a century-old tradition with its resemblance to Medieval codices, the book containing the entire series brings readers to witness the birth of Uygun’s fictional world carrying traces of his childhood as well as prominent moments from his life as an artist, all the while providing detailed historical information on codices. Emphasizing the intersections between Uygun’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and codices which have been based on fantastic beasts throughout history, the book offers an unconventional reading of an artist, attempting to portray him and his artwork through a single series.
Interpreting Uygun’s art in light of references from his life story, Erten summarizes “The Garden of Earthly Delights” in the following words: “…‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ series that Mehmet Uygun started sketching in notebooks at the age of 35 is, in fact, an ‘animal encyclopaedia’ meant to elucidate the fantastic world he started dreaming up by the side of the ‘pit’ in his grandfather’s basement as a mere child and introduce its inhabitants. This encyclopaedia features 77 separate ‘beasts’ or ‘creatures’. Depicted amidst scenes representing nature, among various plants either familiar or completely strange, these beings allure viewers with their vivid colours and play with our minds to make us wonder whether they actually exist or not. From reptiles to predators, winged animals to mammals, it introduces us to the unfamiliar animals of a familiar world. These include creatures that are more like Siyah Qalam’s demons than animals. In human form but with the tail of a lemur, among Mehmet Uygun’s figures are also those that evoke modern times wearing what appears to be striped t-shirts…”
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