The formal roots of early 20th-Century abstraction are located in simple geometric and organic forms which were transformed in the hands of various artists from the 1940’s onward, to Abstract Expressionism in the 1970’s. The result was a new range of stylistic configurations of sharp distinction and broad variation, carrying references to earlier trends. 

It is possible to find traces of those geometric forms in Coskun Demirok's abstract works, but he, in a sense, updates these forms, transforming them in context-less compositions that resist the impression of representation, an idea central to  Modernism. But even though Demirok’s compositions appear to conform to the ideas of harmony, rhythm and order which Modernism proposed, he also develops very deliberately the blurring of marks and blotches of colour stain - suggesting unfinished process or even, accident - as part of his attempt to define his own contemporary language. 

The artist uses the ordering of marks as a strategy to set up the opposition of connectedness to unconnected-ness, the vivid or evocative to the ineffective, the critical to the indifferent. As the artist states, the works may be regarded as framing important contemporary philosophical or Art historical questions, but they don't necessarily propose answers to those questions. His intention is also never to add meaning or give affirmation to an idea. On the contrary, the artist wants to break with the established legitimacy of an Art movement and its stereotypes, and instead chooses to disturb and fragment, creating a sense of fragility and illogic. 

There is the suggestion of such contradictions throughout these works. It is the artist’s apparent wish to surprise the audience with illusions that appear and then fade, cohere and then dissolve, particularly in the series entitled Gidebildigince (Seeking Limits). 

The artist chooses a white background for these paintings, creating a strong visual contrast in compositions which are developed, on the one hand, to establish the forms, and on the other, to collapse them. The thickly-gelled impasto use of paint is also important here, producing a surprising volume in the linear strokes, usually in black, red or Prussian blue. These enlivened linear marks which dissect the white background and disperse without order almost explode against the white background, creating a mobile structure across the whole composition, the structural integrity of which is then undermined by its incompleteness and what appear to be accidental extensions of dripped paint.

The particular colour selection contributes to the dynamism of the paintings’ structure and surface. According to some colour theories white increases concentration and the red applied onto it becomes especially vibrant and stimulating. On the other hand, black is the colour of balance, whereas blue signifies infinity and authority, and grays are the colours of memory...they speak of inbetween-ness. The artist chooses these colours to enhance the abruptness of the forms they describe, rather than for their resonance with an embodied narrative. The colours seem to have been carefully chosen, but there are those other elements which could be taken as accidental. By the contradictions Demirok sets up in his paintings, and by playing with visual ambiguity, he provokes an engagement between the painting and the audience. However, what stays in the mind of the viewer is not the ambiguity but the vibrant, mobility and energy captured within what nonetheless remains a generally calm surface. 

In his process, Demirok seeks new solutions on canvas with paint, including the repeated removal of paint and the scratching of the surface. He creates a painted image that never ends. In his infinite alterations, experimentations and incompleteness, he suggests the impossible task of Sisyphus. A video work explains this well. In the video, a painting starts, forms emerge, paint is removed, the painted surface is defaced and the process repeats itself in an infinite loop. This is the record of an action without end. 

Sevil Dolmaci
Teaching Assistant
Yeditepe University, Istanbul