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Nurol Art Gallery in Ankara featured a group exhibition titles the “Secrets In The Mirror” as the last exhibition of the year 2022. Portrait works of about 40 artists from painting, sculpture and ceramic disciplines took place in the exhibition. Mutlu Baskaya, Fatma Batukan Belge and Ilhan Marasali took in charge as the curators of the “Secrets In The Mirror”


The oldest known portrait of the World is a woman’s head made of mammoth tooth smaller than our thumb. About 26 thousand years ago, in a valley full of game animals known as Moravia today, a man or a woman has carved this small head with skill and a bit stubbornness to be able to shape the hard ivory. The individual characteristics of a living woman such as her jaw bulge and disability in one eye have been distinctly portrayed. While our ancestor making this portrait was embodying the existence of the human in front – his/her own existence if it’s an auto-portrait – he/she quite likely didn’t know that he/she would narrate this to thousands of years ahead.

The word portrait was derived from the Latin “protraho” root and it means “to take the copy of”. One of the reasons emerging of the portrait picturing is to immortalize a person and remind him/her to next generations. Human face picture is the most significant element that emphasizes who the portrayed person is. During the history of art, portraits have also gone through changes like other trends. In modern art, the artist’s goal is not copying his/her model anymore. To a writer asking him what’s important in catching the similarity in a portrait, Picasso replies “Nothing”. Knowing whether a portrait resembles the model or not, is not important for an artist.

In modern art, portrait is placed on a plane how the artist perceives its’ model and where he/she questions the model’s existence together with his/her own. Together with the model’s inner world we also view the artist’s own inner world that he/she projects on his/her model. Whereas in auto-portrait, the artists is both the object and the subject of the work. The work creates the point where the artist presenting himself/herself to the audience, connects with the communal zone.

Human that faces his/her inner world and looks at himself/herself, discovers the possibility of being another existence which does not need a body other than his/her existence shaped in flesh and bones. “There’s an I within me, deep, deeper than I” says Yunus Emre and that other “I” he discovered was in fact none other than the “alter ego” in modern psychoanalysis. Sometimes we look for the traces of those other I in our reflections in the mirror. Because of the social roles we have to take, we may find ourselves looking for the answer for the questions “which one is me, which one is you, which one is him/her” when we look at the mirror… How many times can we really face ourselves in the mirror? What other inner secrets does the glaze of the mirror hides in it? Just how a human who saw himself/herself in a polished obsidian surface thousands of years ago, has tried to attribute a meaning to this image, we also face our complex situations we cannot explain in the mirror.

Portrait or auto-portrait is a way of expression an artist approaches when he/she faces with the society, the individual and himself/herself. We will be watching this face off becoming an image in the portraits in the “Secrets In The Mirror” exhibition.


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