By Heidi Trautmann
One day in the early existence of our world, some species of creatures stood up on their hind legs, beating their still hairy breasts with their fists and claiming that they were better than their four-legged colleagues because their brain was bigger and they could use it for expressing themselves in glyphs and logos. Events were recorded on cave walls, and first mathematics were done by displaying the number of antelopes they had killed.
The early beginning of our mankind was the basis of research for Semen Emiroğluları when she started developing her latest art project SEHIR or with the English title Voyeur/Voyager. I went to see her exhibition in the exhibition hall on the second floor of the Famagusta Municipality building and I must say I was truly surprised. “The theme was there right in my way as a literature teacher and as an artist I picked it up and transposed it into paintings. Having studied the history of writing for over a year, I put the experience aside and went to look for signs and marks of today, the signs I have come across in my life, the signs people and events leave behind, signs along our road of life, accompanying us during our journey through life.”
Semen believes that life started in water and ended on land in the very beginning, then people coming across the sea to land on the coasts of Cyprus, for example, and there were the onlookers, the voyeurs, and there were the voyagers coming and going, and now there are the marks they left behind.
I had met Semen in 2005 when I visited Baki Boğac in his studio in Famagusta. Semen was then his student, a very fresh student. She remembers: “I was so full of stories, the lust to tell them in one way or another and it is thanks to Baki Boğac, my art teacher for five years, that I can today direct my power into proper channels.”
Yes, I remember her first paintings but as I learnt from her she first started to sculpt and Baki taught her the laws of balance. Still today she shares the spacious studio with him, a beautifully renovated Venetian church where his sculptures are on display. Semen confirms that she was often influenced by the powerful and harmonic sculptures around her when she was working. And I could feel it when I looked at the paintings of her latest exhibition.
Powerful they are and every space of the canvas is in proper balance with each other, and the colours are well set and telling. She has thoroughly worked on the texture of the canvas and it goes perfectly well with the theme of her project: The history of writing. The message does not end at the rim of the paintings, it is continued on the rough wooden frames, or fractions of frames, in true continuation of the composition and glued to it traces the past has left behind: the story does not end here, she wants to say. In her paintings, on the rough structure, she used all sorts of tools, even her fingers, to leave marks, her own marks, and, she said, I mostly used pure colours at one time and worked over them with another layer. I am very impressed.
It could be the story of Cyprus, our today through the lens of yesterday, symbols everywhere, mankind cannot live without symbols.
Semen Emiroğluları’s exhibition will end on July 15, but she has the idea of taking the exhibition on tour through the island. If you want to see the exhibition, please call her under 0533 860 4313.