Şakir Gökçebağ was born in 1965 à Denizli (Turquie)

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Form Follows Function Follows Form – Thomas Niemeyer

The artistic exploration of the everyday often generates a strangely detached view of the imageof the normality of the world we live in. On the other hand, practically all objects of utility are designed and add an aesthetic dimension to life. The images generated by Şakir Gökçebağ’s art are also derived from the forms and materials of everyday objects. Plastic buckets, garden hoses, tape measures, combs, clothes hangers, roofing felt, or carpets – the works on display at the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn evolved from all sorts of products that clearly belong to the range of household supplies or a hardware shops. However, even at the first glance, the original function of the things from which Gökçebağ made his objects and installations is almost completely obliterated. And yet, the applied products and materials are still recognisable and remain equally significant within the newly evolved structure.

From an art-historical perspective, this outwardly abstract procedure also reveals the tradition of an important social area of tension that was the object of reflection in 20th century art. Despite the aesthetic qualities of modern-day commodities, their functionality is still perceived as the ultimate key to understanding them. We have thoroughly internalised the mantra of industrial modernity according to which form follows functions. As popular and apparently absolute as this phrase may be, it has strictly speaking never been true. During the process of its design, every function of an object allows for alternatives, meaning that the final shape is always the result of decisions which exceed functionality. In the context of design,these formal decisions always follow aesthetic criteria.

The fact that the concept of modernity is still clearly defined by so-called functional design stems from a certain notion. The late 19th century saw the radical departure from the lavish decorations and the display of splendour favoured by the wealthy representatives of the early bourgeoisie. Design based on this rejection of embellishment followed the guiding principle of the industrial era. Much like the broadly available new products, beauty was to become common property. Obviously, the economic side of this concept was a style of design, which had to comply with the standards of low-cost industrial production.

Initially the artistic response to the industrial aesthetics was hesitant and manifested itself in very different forms. The first decided commitment to these new forms came from the Futurists, whose works and writings revealed an especially ardent faith in progress. Since then, artists have found different ways to explore urbanity and the world of work with machines, mass printings, or consumer goods in their works – sometimes playfully, sometimes critically.

Marcel Duchamp developed the most radical position on the aesthetics and application of industrial products in art with his Readymades, the unaltered appropriation of commercial objects. This initially private experiment started in 1915 and was to trigger one of the most important turning points in art of the 20th century with a delay of more than five decades. Above all, Duchamp’s Readymades challenged the authority of an artistic system, which based its appraisal of artworks on predefined criteria, rules, and judgements of taste. While this invention is viewed as an artistic rebellion today, it was only acknowledged by a handful of Duchamp’s close friends at the time. It was not before the 1960s, when a widespread social debate about the culture of consumerism, advertising, and mass media started to take hold, that the significance and topicality of Marcel Duchamp’s ideas became apparent. For art, this meant an enormous and ongoing increase of possibilities and liberties.

The freedom to question the one-dimensionality of usage is a fundamental element in Şakir Gökçebağ’s work. The questions he formulates are by no means only critical or negative, but convey an infectious delight in surprising transformations. Inspired by the original forms, he invents entirely new, mostly purposeless appropriations and orders.

Nonetheless, there is an implicit system of rules connecting all these free experiments with forms. The industrial artefacts used in these works have an inherent technical structure. The forms and images the artist develops from them follow the idea of geometry with the same kind of regularity. For a long time, ornamentation played a secondary role in art. In design and especially in architecture, however, it served as the poetical expression not only of the idea of an object, but also the cultural code of its origins. Of course, the essence of forms continues to reside beyond rational application. All it takes is the (artistic) liberty to view one’s own culture and its products from a new perspective. Thus, Şakir Gökçebağ’s art is primarily a both humorous and enigmatic poetryof reality.

Ignacio Canales Aracil - Curiosité du monde de l'art

Trans Layers I, 2010, 375 x 650 x 10 cm

Ignacio Canales Aracil - Curiosité du monde de l'art

Morning Circle, 2013, red lentils, toilet paper, 206 x 206 x 10 cm

Ignacio Canales Aracil - Curiosité du monde de l'art

Guests II, 2004, size variable