as above so below
For Melike Kara’s second exhibition at Arcadia Missa, a series of new works continues the artist’s explorationintocombiningKurdish traditions, narratives, fates and ritual onto the canvas. In this series she further layersand abstracts tapestry motifs, echoing the sampling of weaving techniques and customs that various Kurdishtribes borrow from the range of countries theirforced migration covers. The act of appropriating, adapting, andhybridising signifies the flux of the Kurdish people and their relationship to visual cultures that are interlacedwith their own
The looseness of brushstroke in these pieces moves the series on from earlier pieces that referenced individualpatterns. Historically, abstraction attempts to subvert direct representation, but instead Kara points to thereferences key to her Kurdish-Alevi heritage, creating a composite of expression and reproduction. Here we findan explicitly subjectivised process-based abstraction.
The forms one finds in each work is personal, the viewer’s eye and experience guiding that which it perceives.Kara’s practice often interrogates how memory forms identity, and theprocess of abstraction in these piecesallows the viewer to bring with them their own moments of experience intounderstanding the composition.
The intricate frames made for these pieces have been crocheted in the method akin to the process the patterns inthe paintings themselves nod to. They signal domesticity, which like much craft is a feminised labour too oftenoverlooked.Similarly,Kara’s method of layering patterns of various colourstoachieve the overall compositionis akin tothe process ofembroidery itself: what happens beneath the surface underpins what we see.Thestarting point of knotting patterns, pushed into the medium of abstract painting, is key to Kara’s practice ofbridging gapsbetween fine art and craft. Not only is the distinction often coupled with a gendered demarcation,but it is also a binary that splits perceptions of Indigenous and Western cultures. In her work she challengesthese distinctions,and extends those challengesto the gallery space itself, altering the walls to become both anextension of the paintings and a site of ritual.
as above so below
Arcadia Missa, London
April 6 – May 28, 2022
Courtesy: the artist and Arcadia Missa, London