When Turkish artist Sefkat Islegen visited Egypt a few years ago, she was fascinated by the Key of Life symbol associated with Egyptian mythology. Legend has it that Egyptian pharaohs convinced society of their immortality with the help of this symbol and thus, ensured the continuity of their authority. It became a tool of exploitation over the centuries.
Karmasa, acrylic on canvas
Inspired by the symbol, Islegen decided to give it a contemporary twist and make it more beneficial to humanity. Her latest exhibition titled Life Keys, features 32 paintings that envision the symbol as a metaphorical key or objective to life.
Bahar Dallari, acrylic on canvas
“It can be anything, such as money, art, love, beauty or nature, even though we are unaware of it. This key becomes the aim of our lives. Unlike the pharaohs, we should share the keys with people,” she explains.
In her paintings, she has tried to explain the keys through abstract forms. The predominance of the colour black acts as a binding factor and unites all elements. The artist also prioritises monochrome hues to make the subjects more noticeable.
Isimsiz, acrylic on canvas
Islegen explains that she finished the paintings in parts: “The process took me three years. I applied the technique of printmaking. I prepared templates upon linoleum and used one template for each colour. I obtained the linoleum by scraping with special knives.”
Zamansiz, acrylic on canvas
She elaborates on the creation, “In contemporary art, non-figurative and symbolic compositions are dominating. With the technique that I am using, I produce the composition in my mind. As soon as I place the patches on their places and juxtapose them…the dream comes true.”
The exhibition includes some of her older compositions as well as newer works made while research on the theme continued. So far, these artworks have travelled to cities like New York, Washington, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Izmir and Ankara. After Mumbai, the exhibition will head to New Delhi and Istanbul. The event is being organised by The Loft in association with The Consulate General, Republic of Turkey.
From April 16 to 30
At The Loft, New Mahalaxmi Silk Mills, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel.
Artists share their canvas callings
Achyut Palav, Calligrapher
As a child, I was given the task to write the daily thought on the school board. That helped me understand the meaning of words and how the form of letters can be contorted to convey meaning. I fell in love with the phonetically rich and beautiful Indian scripts.
Favourite venue: I spent my youth seeing great works of art at the Jehangir Art Gallery.
Prakash Ghadge, Pen and ink artist
I started my career in 1977, after getting a Diploma in Drawing and Painting from Sir JJ School of Arts. I loved experimenting with pen/ pencil. Though the world appears colourful, every person is black and white from inside. Each person is unhappy in some manner and through art, I connect with these emotions.
Favourite venue: Jehangir Art Gallery attracts viewers from across the world, the Nehru Centre Art Gallery is spacious and the Tate art gallery in London boasts of an impressive collection.
Suvigya Sharma, Miniature artist
I practise both the Kishangarh shaili and the Nathdwara shaili, but add my own style of workmanship to it. I was brought up in Jaipur with art all around me. I loved the frescoes in my house in Jaipur, at the City Palace and the Amer Fort. My endeavour is to preserve this art form, which is one of the oldest.
Favourite venue: The Nehru Centre in London because you get to touch base with many Indian
art lovers there.
Turkey and India connect
Islegen was at the Jaipur Art Festival last month, and admits that she found similarities between the spiritual lives and expressions of Turkish and Indian people. “Both countries are tied to their traditions. Colours are bright and energetic,” she comments.
On her passion for art
“Visual and aesthetic aspects in life have always fascinated me. Since my visual memory is strong, I manage to use visual materials from my past. I retired after 24 years of teaching and now I just work in my art shop.”