“It is human to want what we need and it is human, too, to wish for what we don’t need but what appears to be desirable. Whereas it is morbid to equally wish for what we need and what seems desirable and to then suffer from the lacking completeness as if we were lacking bread. Exactly that is the misery of romanticism: it wants to reach for the moon—as if it could be taken from the sky.”
Like many others, I confuse the things I need with the things I wish for. While my necessary needs such as food, warmth, housing, etc. are fulfilled, I also have dreams and I want these dreams to come true. When Pessoa wrote the words above in 1930, another 39 years passed before humanity reached the moon. When the first human walked on the moon for the first time in 1969 it became clear that, except for the rivalry of the Cold War, there wasn’t much to do for humanity other than to travel to the moon. Indeed, as far we know, a second trip to the moon has not taken place yet—it looks as though the moon has no lovers nowadays. But with the first trip to the moon another symbol was added to the already existing assemblage of symbols connected to it: now the moon appears to me like a round white cold sore caused by the herpes simplex virus.
According to Pessoa it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it is the offshoot of a romantic disease in which a subject does not only want to form its time, but also wants to regenerate itself. In my exhibition I want to elaborate on the romanticism in which a subject finds him- or herself once they permanently regenerates their territory. Paintings, curtains, and wallpaper express this conceptual interest. The paintings show a portrait of a student who has to learn lessons of truth from space, a portrait of a prophet after physical desire, an erosion illuminated by moonlight. Disrespect for the canon of painting while at the same time using and working with it, a certain disrespect for the self and its construction, a candor to cut up both and put them back together—these are features of my paintings. Because the ability to make brush strokes appear as though they were blown there by a breeze, but have nevertheless landed precisely. The way I treat the surface of the canvas with a certain carelessness while at the same time being very aware of what I bring to it; even tastelessness, deliberate dilettantism, unpleasant colors, blurriness, are always intended; the paradox between skill and working against it creates a tension in my painting. There is also the fact that I have an interest in dissecting the painterly space and to depict emotional spaces by letting the old clash with the new, the classical frameworks of painting, history, and myths with the subjective and/or the contemporary political. In this way my technique and my image content are mirror images of one another; both a continuous collision of times, both always working against something to have something else appear out of the depths, and not without humor.
—Nazım Ünal Yilmaz