By Janet Ekstract
İSTANBUL- Celebrated contemporary Turkish artist Ismail Acar has created a brand of art that defies definition and whose subject matter spans centuries. The dedicated artist’s philosophy is to push the envelope with thought-provoking art that allows viewers to reach their own conclusions and interpret each piece in their own unique way. Nowhere is this more evident than in Acar’s future exhibition concept entitled Love of Islam – the first exhibition of its kind in Türkiye, where the major goal of the exhibition is to demonstrate how all religions in the world “originate from the same roots,” Acar explained.
Acar said the objective behind the Five Senses Phenomena is to elicit a sense of empathy within the viewer. Love of Islam will be comprised of seven rooms, each representing the five senses, five phenomena: Creation, Love, Power, Fear and Doomsday.
The exhibition willshowcase prophets from the three major religions and could be interpreted as “memories of the prophets,” Acar points out, “It is the same God and the Koran accepts all prophets of all religions because in our Koran they accept the love of the prophets.” To that end, this eclectic artist and sculptor has created a papercut panel with Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, Moses and symbols of Muhammad since it is prohibited for the Muslim prophet’s face to be shown. Acar explained that throughout human existence, one of the most significant acts was that of eating and becoming full. To that end, he has created edible cookies with sacred icons to represent diverse civilizations while referencing the 21st century, in the age of consumerism “where everything can be obtained or consumed with our most primitive of instincts,” Acar commented.
What makes this exhibition truly unique and extra special is that all the artwork features descriptions in braille so the visually-impaired have an opportunity to explore the exhibition as well. Acar said in the last four years, a major aim with his art is to make it inclusive for everyone to appreciate, especially for the visually-impaired. It also incorporates the universal theme of the five senses to allow viewers an opportunity for an interactive sensory experience where they can touch the art, smell the art and taste the art, allowing for their own special experience, the artist said.
Love of Islam includes symbolic stories of Islam that match other religions such as Judaism and Christianity as well as symbols intertwined throughout the exhibition. The art medium Acar uses incorporates sculpture, painting, calligraphy as well as a unique papercut technique using light to illuminate symbolic messages. In a world that is in a state of constant flux and upheaval, Acar views his exhibition as a way for people to allow their mind to be open to all possibilities. He said he hopes it encourages people to eliminate prejudice. His idea is for viewers to come to their own individual conclusions about what they see when they view his work.
The exhibition’s diverse rooms, expressing the five senses inspiring the basic pheromones of taste, touch and smell will elicit a unique response in viewers, Acar said. This style of exhibition will be a first of its kind in Türkiye and he said the exhibition is expected to be ready for viewing in six months. He shared that it is timely and thought-provoking, to allow everyone the freedom to interpret it spontaneously as they move through the various rooms. He said Love of Islam will be shown in Istanbul in a central location that could include either Tophane or Atatürk Kültur Merkezi.
Summer Exhibition Promises Spectacular Views
Türkiye’s magnificent historical İshak Paşa Saray (Ishak Pasha Palace) will be the site of Acar’s 2022 summer exhibition to focus on ancient Anatolian kings and gods. The site, an ancient palace with stellar architecture is surrounded by mountains and an ancient castle – located outside Kars, the perfect place to showcase Anatolian culture. The exhibition that runs from July 23 – August 23, centers on unique, original cultures and belief systems from diverse periods of history that will include excerpts from poets and writers as well as from ancient times in Türkiye. Acar explained that it’s a “humanistic philosophy” and the concept that “the world consists of all cultures” capable of uniting the human family. Why this exhibition will be truly spectacular is not only the location but the fact that Acar’s goal is to bring youth together from Van, Diyarbakir, Erzurum and Iran to view the exhibition at Isak Paşa.
Just as Türkiye is a nuanced country, consisting of layers of civilizations with diverse cultures, so Ismail Acar’s universal exhibition concepts provoke thought, a range of emotions and seek to broaden perspectives while highlighting the extraordinary cultural milieu that Türkiye represents.