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Review: Claire Ashley’s and Bahar Yurukoglu’s Intimate Horizons

Friday, October 17, 2014


Both colorful and captivating, the dynamic current exhibition at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Intimate Horizons, combines the work of artists Claire Ashley and Bahar Yurukoglu and contains an exciting collaboration between the two artists at its epicenter.  Combining these two artists is not an obvious decision, but the result is fascinating.  Aside from an obvious similarity between their artworks of brightness and colorful appearance, their work appears very different, as Ashley’s works are amorphous, bulbous, and almost bodily while Yurukoglu’s work is straight, jagged, and digital. However, both seem to be engaged in similar explorations of form and materiality. 

Ashley creates large inflatable sculptures made of sewn canvas covered in bright spray paint.  In Intimate Horizons, there are two of these such sculptures, and they are colossal and imposing.  Reaching towards the ceiling, these forms have a strange bodily and animal presence, but they do not feel alive.  Instead, they seem to be sleeping, or simply the shed carcasses of a body once there.  Perhaps this bodily presence is due to the limb-like projections that jut from the sculptures, or to the paint that sometimes forms into arrangements that look like eyes or other features of a body.  Ashley is interested in straddling the space between painting, sculpture, and performance, and this is apparent in her unique painted inflatables.  

In contrast, Yurukoglu’s work is a combination of video projected over colored plexiglass cut into jagged geometric forms.  The plexiglass is affixed to the wall, sticking out in various angles, but because of the projectors and the lighting of the exhibition, they sometimes seem to be flat, or a part of the videos projected over them.   The videos, which appear abstract and equally as colorful and geometric as the plexiglass, are creations that Yurukoglu calls “neoscapes”.   In their making, she places the plexiglass into different natural settings, and then films the result.  Then, within the exhibition, these landscapes are recalled through the placement of the plexiglass on the wall, and the filmed portions are projected over top of them. 

Collaborative Practice 

Their collaborative piece, B-15 (2014), is an intermixing of these two artists’ conceptually related but aesthetically divergent explorations of form and color.  It is composed of one of Ashley’s inflatable works in combination with Yurukoglu’s plexiglass structures and video work.  The inflatable, the largest one in the room, is without its bright and colorful spray paint.  Instead, it is a solid white, and Yurukoglu’s video work is projected onto it from multiple angles.  Additionally, covering the inflatable are varyingly colored and shaped plexiglass forms emerging from the crevices and folds.  

Once we see this collaboration, all the pieces of the exhibition blend together, and the similarities between them become obvious.  In Ashley’s artworks, the colorful spray paint, opposed to the organic shapes of the inflatables themselves, is sharp and linear, and this rigidity is visible in Yurukoglu’s geometric plexiglass and video.  In B-15, the projected video is visually similar to the paintings on Ashley’s other sculptures, and so the video becomes a moving painting on the inflatable, a confused representation.  Because of the light of the projections, the plexiglass affixed to the inflatable becomes conflated with the video, and it is unclear whether certain colors are reflections of the plexiglass or within the video itself. 

What initially appeared as juxtaposition between two very different artistic practices is thus merged together in a satisfying and visually appealing way.  Their two desires – of creating new landscapes, “neoscapes”, and of confusing the boundaries between painting, sculpture, and performance – are morphed and conjoined. 

Claire Ashley and Bahar Yurukoglu's, Intimate Horizons is at DisJecta Contemporary Art Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave., Portland, OR 97217 open 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM, Fri.-Sun., through Nov. 2. 


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