For his US solo debut, Derya Akay has expanded his first publication, A Flower as a Poem (Perro Verlag, 2016), into an installation in the two guest bedrooms of the apartment-gallery. The north bedroom holds several large scrolls of automatic-poetry printed on paper and clear acetate, suspended from the walls and spilling across the bedroom floor. The layering of transparent and opaque materials results in an indeterminate merging of surfaces that is unveiled by the installation’s free form and open construction. What could be interpreted as a foray into the artist’s processed-based practice could also be considered a sortie of the subconscious and spiritual.
Beside the scrolls lays a box made of aromatic cedar, zebrawood, padauk and Douglas fir. The box holds four studio t-shirts stained using an exhaustive list of natural dyes and plants from Akay‘s garden including cochineal bugs, logwood, indigo, rudbeckias, eucalyptus, coreopsis, walnut husk and madder root. Beneath them can be found the original painted poetry works, highly texturized with acrylic paints, watercolor, beeswax and inks.
As a gesture to the intimate nature of the apartment-gallery, the artist has used original wood lathing, salvaged from his flooded Vancouver apartment, to create a pair of paintings that are installed in the west bedroom. The exposed wood is an allusion to the skeleton of the private just as the negative spaces between the laths are the cracks and peepholes that allow us to peer in. Smeared across the wood canvases are spontaneous brushes of paint and plaster mixed with rose petals, amaryllis, borage, turmeric, sumac and paprika taken from this apartment’s spice cabinet, effectively creating a literal bond between the two spaces – that of the host and that of the artist.
Opposite the lath-paintings are a pair of boxes containing several body scans originally printed on one large continuous scroll and then cut into pieces and painted over. They barely reveal the most intimate but often over-looked surfaces of the body – beneath the arm, the nipple, the belly button, the space between the fingers and finally the upper thigh.
DeryaAkay (b. 1988, Turkey) is an artist living in Vancouver, Canada. He received the 2016 Portfolio Prize Emerging Artist Award in Vancouver. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Campbell River Art Gallery in March 2017. Current and upcoming group exhibitions include Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (2017), Unit 17, Vancouver (2017) and Ambivalent Pleasures, Vancouver Art Gallery (2017). He has an upcoming residency with the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver titled Mantı, Börek, Baklava where Akay will collaborate and collect knowledge about foraging, shopping and cooking from grandmothers in the region that have all come from an immigrant background.