Prof. Gungor Guner's exhibition titled "This Is Not A Tile" has been watched in Merdiven Art Space throughout March. Including the master artist's works standing between art and design, the exhibition was bearing the traces of a background coming from the Bauhaus ecole.
FATMA BATUKAN BELGE
Prof. Gungor Guner's exhibition titled "This Is Not A Tile" she opened in Merdiven Art Space, was covering her late period works she has produced starting from a single pattern. With this exhibition, we saw that the artist who's always hardworking and productive, has yet again worked and produced a lot for the last four years including two years of pandemic. The work constituting the core of the exhibition was a single motive in fact; Guner says, "Everything began by printing a motive you see a lot in the exhibition on a big tile! At that moment I realized that this is not a tile but a very balanced painting by itself on an empty wall. That motive may look quite familiar to you but it's a geometric motive strained and refined through years. I'm saying it underlined that it's not a copy at all. It was a very joyful process to enlarge, minimize, reproduce the motive with a single click by the help of a computer, turning it into an area from its' linear form and turning the result from color to color again with a single click. And it was another happiness to later print all the colors included in the forms coming out, with a digital printing machine containing ceramic colorants. It was actually the computer assisted way of expression of our era! Call this result a design work or an art work...”
The said geometric motive has been strained and refined both through hundreds of years and through the artist's own assimilation and taken its' place on this tile. Confronting us in her various works in the past and being a specific element of geometric balance, the roots of this motive has to be sought in octagonal star of Seljuq. It's extremely educatory to see how a cultural element in artist's DNA can have a place in modern art beyond repeating the tradition. Her works such as this, are the answer to the following question, "how can we be genuine and new without negating the past". It's one of the most important lessons we took from Gungor Guner who has raised three generations of artists including me.
It's best to remember that the artist who emphasized the link between the art work and the design object, is one of the first graduates of the State School of Applied Fine Arts. Founded in 1957 affiliated to the Bauhaus ecole, the school has the biggest role in shaping Gungor Guner's sense of art. Grounded on concepts such as simplicity, spirituality, functionality, conceptualism, respect to traditions and genuineness, this sense of art has accompanied her in every moment of her nearly 60 years of journey of creation since her pupilage. “The said tile has no aspect contradicting my definition of ceramics" says Guner, what's her definition of ceramics then? "Ceramic is the thing that makes you feel its' bottom is earth and top is glass!... This is a feeling which reminds you that human lives between the Earth and the Sky. Just like our world spinning around, ceramic takes shape on a spinning wheel most of the time. therefore, I say we must use this creative source and spin that wheel."
Potter’s wheel or lathe in other words, may be the most important equipment Gungor Guner uses while realizing her works but this is not limited to traditional shaping method. Never take her serious when she says "I'm a habitual ceramicist who's fond of potter’s wheel", she's open to experience all kinds of technical means. The CNC machine in ITU where she is lecturing in recent years, has created new playgrounds for her and she has experienced the contributions of the digital environment and CNC machine to her designs she created on wheel like Turkish coffee cup and she has exhibited these digital returns perceptibly. And this brought her the Prestige Award in the International "A'Design Award" design contest in 2017 with her Turkish coffee cup design. In a sense, she's a ceramicist who expands her playground with technical means. She has produced the tile which's the starting point of this exhibition, with the opportunities of the screen printing machines when she was working as the guest artist in Vitra Ceramic Art Workshop included in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Faculty's Ceramic-Glass Department. Guner finds it very important for the elder generation to meet with digital environment and interiorize it and underlines that it should always be noted that means like 3D are tools that makes works easier and must add richness to imagination.
According to Gungor Guner "Art is a game! What's a game? Trying, finding, making, spoiling, retrying etc. If you don't have a patience or habit like playing games, works you do may stay prosaic. Potter’s wheel provides you patience, meeting with the material (clay) and its' own rules, speaking and saying something with it. Hence, you can say that it's a playground with no limits in keeping with the clay's own soul.” And this playground concept of the artist, was clearly seen in her "This Is Not A Tile" exhibition. Boards she made of with paper additive to reduce weight, versatile ceramic boxes (garden furniture, flowerpot-vase), geometric flowers were all works arising from this game. And of course, there was no short of Gungor Guner's signature works of cylindrical vases and plates shaped on wheel.
With her discourse, "This Is Not A Tile", Gungor Guner confronts the audience with a questioning; just like Picasso saying "Painting is not what you want from me but what I give to you", like Rene Magritt writing "This is not a pipe" (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) under his painting The Treachery of Images (1928-29)... Guner starts off from the difference between the imagery of the artist and the perception of the audience and her tile is really not a tile!