Künstlerhaus Stuttgart presents the first comprehensive solo exhibition in Germany of Istanbul-based sculptor Erdağ Aksel. The exhibition Life of Objects focuses on the main conceptual tendencies in Aksel’s practice in addition to new video work, produced specifically for this context. Operating as a methodical survey, the exhibition is a monographic study, aiming also to develop a parallel process for the image and text production of a new publication to be launched at the end of 2014, which will ultimately bring his oeuvre together.
Since the late seventies, Aksel has been working with diverse media and with certain questions relating to the traditions of painting, land-art, sculpture, and installation. He has also played a key role as a mentor for many emerging artists and curators in the Turkish art scene as well as a critical figure during the transition of how conceptual thinking is involved with fundamental questions around materiality, politics of symbolism, history of modernity, nationalism, militarism, and bureaucracy.
This exhibition, entitled Life of Objects, intends to emphasize the physicality of our relationships with objects and the notion of materiality regarding the social symbols and psychological associations attributed to them at different levels of perception and cognition. The selection of works follows a curatorial decision making process, which intends to release the main conceptual element in his approach; the artist mostly produces work in series with titles as chapters. The exhibition does not only reflect the transition of certain questions around Turkish modernity, politics of symbols, and the transformation of national identity but also contributes to the understanding of categorization, collection, preservation, and perception of objects in a certain cultural, social, and political context.
Erdağ Aksel was born in Izmir in 1953. He studied art in the United States, receiving his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University. He was awarded an assistantship to continue his graduate studies at the Creative Arts Center at at WVU until 1979. Aksel’s teaching career began at West Virginia University and continued on at Dokuz Eylül University, California State University at San Jose, Ecole Nationale D’Art de Bourges, France, and at Bilkent University, where he served as the Chairman of the Department of Graphic Design. Aksel had his first solo exhibition at West Virginia University in 1978, followed by many solo shows in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, London, and Gdansk. He also participated in numerous group exhibitions in Turkey and internationally. Aksel was invited to exhibit his works at the second Istanbul Biennial (1989), the eighth International Small Sculpture Triennial of Budapest (1990), at the Italian Pavilion of the 45. Venice Biennial (1993), and recently A history of inspiration at Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2013). Aksel also participated in the groundbreaking A Cross Section of Avant-garde Turkish Art exhibitions in 1987 and 1988 as well as The Modern and Beyond: 1950-2000 exhibition at Santral Istanbul (2007-2008). His works have been acquired by many private as well as institutional collections from the Tate Modern to Istanbul Modern. Aksel currently works in Istanbul and teaches at Sabancı University in Istanbul.