Aslıhan Kaplan Bayrak is concerned with spaces. She hints at the transition between cosmos and chaos by way of pulling order to the limits of disorder in expressionistically reflecting space onto her canvas. Built on the convex surface of the Earth according to Euclidean plane geometry spaces impose order on us, yet these same spaces evolve towards entropy as they are abstracted in the artist's canvases with her curves and her intersecting lines. Spaces that we create by halting the uninterruted infinity of space-time are always drawn to lose their balance by virtue of their own nature. Such closed systems with no energy input would only follow the second law of thermodynamics and would cause chaos rather than order, or in other word increase entropy. On the other hand, as per the earth's energy flows every form created is bound to be torn down. Consequently, Aslıhan's spaces prompt us to reconsider our sense of space in that they disturb us. The moment we think we settle down, we feel that we become nomadic as the space evolves into disorder. While nomads move in all directions on earth, we the settled become nomadic where we are as the spaces we create get deranged.
Euclidean geometry's postulate that "parallel lines never intersect" was violated when Titanic sank. Viewed from a rescue boat, the ship will look beautiful in the dark of the night; yet, this beauty is interrupted by the 'horrible' angle that the ship's lights make with the surface of the ocean as it sinks. Besides the clear violation of this basic law of geometry, there exist nothing indicating that the ship has been damaged (Stephen Kern, Culture of Time and Space, Iletisim Publishing)In Aslihan's paintings there exist similar 'horrible' angles that attest to how the space has been damaged and is bound to sink. Yet, in these paintings that make us sense the disorder through the use of intersecting lines and curves, stairs hit our eyes as the though they are rescue boats themselves. For stairs are areas of exit/entry. In our settled lives, in the daily journeys that we make to settle down, we have to go through stairs. We journey through points that are symbols for being settled and order and we define ourselves through the settled points rather than the transitionary ones. Spaces of transition, in other words, in-between spaces, are regions of uncertainty. And stairs are spaces that are open to coincidents as opposed to our homes which are spaces of calculability and predictability. Transition points where we can experience uncalculated encounters. Disorderly spaces against spaces where we experience order.
Stairs take us on vertical journeys by way of connecting earth's distinct planes to each other. The earth will manifest itself from very different angles as the stairs are carried onto varying planes. Stairs which remind us that we ourselves will change when we alter our conception of the space and the plane we exist on, as they disrupt the relationship of stability with the ground and the system, and notice that perspective is relative when we experience the earth from different angles.
Today, as we focus on ourselves and keep on falling in blind wells, we sense that stairs are an important aspect that bind the outside with inside. The outside is important. The absolute order of the interior, while destined to decay and fail, will continue to be part of life to the extent that it loses balance with what comes from the outside. Because life is a constant disruption of balance. Perfect balance is death. Our balance will be constantly disrupted as we get exposed to powers on the outside and will regain balance with every step we take, and balance and unbalance will pursue each other as a perpetual movement. The stairs in Aslıhan's paintings invite us to walk; stairs, within the backdrop of the enclosed spaces destined to decay and fall, are rescue boats with which to build new balances.
Aslıhan makes us feel life's nomadic ways, its flow, with the stairs that prompt us to walk while encouraging to perceive space anew and in a different manner; that we will create novel and incalculable balances with life.
Stairs that connect distinct, various planes of perspectives to each other. Passages we need to traverse fast, stairwells; in Georges Perec's words "For all that passes, passes by the stairs, and all that comes, comes by the stairs" Aslıhan's paintings can be entered via the stairs, but stairs are inviting. In connecting planes with multiple perspectives through stairs, she has turned the stair into a conjunction; just as "and"s, stairs also connect her paintings to one another and stairs cease to be a "anonymous, cold and almost hostile places”. Perec is right: "For all that passes, passes by the stairs, and all that comes, comes by the stairs " (Life A User’s Manual, Georges Perec)
The intersecting lines that defy Euclidian geometry and linear perspective provide an abstraction of destruction in Aslıhan's paintings where stairs are the primary harbingers that signify a new emergence, a novel coming forth in space and time. But these in-between areas that we need to pass through to reach defined spaces with fixed identities also instill a level of anxiety as they are spaces of unpredictability. Stairs in apartment buildings, with their unpredictability, have always frightened us. We are to traverse the stairs before we can reach the secure environment of our overly-defined residences. Aslıhan Kaplan Bayrak, with her stairs, catches us in these in-between spaces and asks us to steer clear of the values attached to being settled and to reconsider the relationship we build with space in this context. In feeling her paintings, we understand that what is permanent is not the settled spaces but stairs.
*translation by Bade Uysaler