by Maja Markovic
As Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into some kind of monstrous vermin.
~Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
In reflecting on the last hundred years, one cannot think of any other time when the human body has been so tightly entangled within cultural, political and technological systems, innumerably reconfigured, amalgamated and dissected. With the malaise of alienation pervasive in modern society as a spiritual, psychological, and increasingly physical condition, so the artist Metin Çelik attempts to examine the disharmony that occurs in adjusting to new conditions as a consequence of being in a socially stratified society. As allegories of Çelik’s identity, so to speak, his paintings question the metaphysical experience of ‘being-in-the-world’ through cathartic paintings of unconscious images. Through collages of objects, bodies and environments, the artist creates an apparent merging of (mater-)realities akin to André Breton’s ‘two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory’ yet merge ‘into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality’. Each surreality raises new visual questions and is as bound by the perceiver’s reality as a giver of meaning as they are by the undertones and overtones of each composition’s oneiric (un)realities. And oneiric they truly are. Like a parade of the Oneiroi, imagined as black-winged demons of dreams by Euripides and the sons of Hypnos by Ovid, it is as if they emerge in Çelik’s works as representations of his unconscious ideas, appearing in many metamorphic guises, most conspicuously as the three in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Morpheus, who ‘can only imitate human beings’; Phobetor, who ‘can turn into birds or beasts or long-tailed reptiles’; and Phantasos, whose ‘deception involves transforming himself into earth or water, / mountainous rocks or trees, and other inanimate objects.’ The artist’s metaphysical painting reveals each body, animal and stone as an unconscious transformation of a dream, idea or event in his mind; his worlds are definitions of himself in the most literal figurativeness.
Stimulated by the books he reads, the films he watches, and the friends he keeps, Çelik states that some of the greatest contributions to his work also come from life itself, ‘watching, living in the moment… because in my compositions, nature and images have every nuance,’ as the more you experience each moment, the more the ‘brain creates images, objects, feelings, figures and spaces in your imaginary world.’…