Text Dr. Christine Vogt / Milli Reasürans Sanat Galerisi/ Istanbul/ 2011

Lines in black, surface in white, these classical elements of design, create the structural tools for painter Coşkun Demirok’s newest works. On large canvases achromatic lines cut across one another, sometimes one by one, sometimes crisscrossing and sometimes creating grid-like forms. Connected to a concept, Demirok has progressively continued this intellectual and structural form of language. Rather than single works of art, he is more interested in grouped series. Concentrating on concepts, delving, delving deeper, pulling away, and as a detail leaving them to become. But, always the main point is to question painting.

Not selecting colorful, active figurative elements, narrative stories, or spaces and people as a point of departure, this style of painting studies peripheral areas. In a totally withdrawn state, concentrating on nuances, and within a concept he has created, he follows the mental progress on canvas. Of course, in this state, canvas and color can both be used experimentally. Surfaces to be painted, sometimes turned around, sometimes left alone, are hung on the wall or placed on the floor. In addition to brushes, long thin sticks are used to spread the colors onto the canvas. Original structures, contours, and silhouettes develop. And here the degree of density of the paint plays a role. When concentrated and generous portions of paint are used, the emerging paint drops – again in linear form – support the structure of the picture.

The concepts of Coşkun Demirok act within this area of tension. And in contrast to all the rigidity and restraint in his paintings, spontaneity gives or desires to give a freedom that becomes a dynamic act and this controlled yet free style connects to Action Painting and the dripping technique created in the 1950’s. In this way, Demirok conquers the coincidental and inserts the dynamic into a planned structure.

The pleasure of experimenting and the openness (to everything) that the artist feels during the creation process appears in this Istanbul exhibition. Born in Ankara, but living in or near the German city of Düsseldorf since the 1970’s, Demirok travels to the city of his ancestors, the native city of his parents. Taking this into consideration, he develops the exhibition using the characteristics of a site-specific installation. The pictures to be exhibited will be developed in two months while the artist lives in Istanbul as “artist in residence”. Beginning with concepts thought about in Düsseldorf and certainly changed by the impressions of a city inhabited by millions of people this is an openly formed series of works. It is not surprising that he does not depart from his basic concept. For many years Coşkun Demirok has been experimenting with the above-defined style of painting. Beginning by working within a system of woven paint, he uses a minimalist style. For him, central questions revolve around the relationship of the part to the whole and the micro to the macro. Using the numbering system he developed, his work can be seen as single pieces or as a series. Furthermore, he uses the classic painting forms of dual works, diptych, and triple works, triptych. However, twelve or more pieces may come together to form work. Whether arranged adjacently, in combinations or compilations spread widely on the wall, for Demirok the subject of his installation, the subject of a single work together with the subject of the support network all allude to the same area of interest.

Taking into consideration his affinity with and particular interest in space, we are not surprised to learn that Coşkun Demirok studied architecture. The structural and grid systems he establishes are related to condense three dimensional line and surface experiments. Canvases become tools for experiments with diversities in depth and expansion of space. Wall compositions composed of an individual work create a particular feeling of spatial depth. Formal designs in small dimensions are transformed into macro dimensions.

Designs, described in a more concrete way as brush designs using the wash technique, have recently become more important for the artist. Rapid and focused shapes transferred to paper as a series of drawings, emerge as preliminary sketches or a type of “disegno”. Even if this does not mean that every sketch will later be transformed into a painting, it still signifies a point of inspiration and a beginning. The severity seen in the grids and woven lines of his paintings also appear in his paper works. In spite of this, when compared with his other work, the dimensions that could be considered small open up new levels for the artists. From this perspective they become independent. The flowing style of painting renders more freedom as it leaves more responsibility for the hand and less for the brain.

Pictures made using black watercolor paint in the wash technique can always be associated to the pictorial structure of Asian paintings, to calligraphic pictures, and to famous minimal paintings of landscape and figures in interior space. The eye tends to convey to the brain that every horizontal line and space around the human figure is a landscape. Every vertical tends to remind one of a landscape element that resembles a tree. And even though the human figure itself is always shown as a horizontal element, when defined within a space, it exists as a vertical.

Therefore, during his stay in Istanbul, we are curious to see whether Coşkun Demirok emphasizes severity or the freedom of shape and space. With its unique position on the Bosphorus Sea, this metropolis is full of innumerable sources of stimulation. Nevertheless, concepts transformed into pictures will enrich the art scene. Certainly, for the artist, the exhibition, and the spectators, an interesting exchange will take place.

Dr.Christine Vogt