Zaman Journal / 30 June 2000
Claude Levi-Strauss, in one of his truly unforgettable conversations with Georges Charbonnier, founds the artistic work as an 'intermediate state' between language and nature. This foundation is, of course, intended for establishing the semiological grounds of art. Yet, this is in fact an orientation which can be extended out to the historical grounds. And, I guess, Peyami Gurel is doing exactly this: he grounds painting in a land of imagination where history of nature and history of culture over lap, not where they diverge.
Long time has past, I know, since Peyami Gurel opened an exhibition of his paintings at the foyer of the CRR Concert Hall. However, I could not help writing on what I think about his paintings, or rather on what his paintings made me think about. Perhaps, I must point out instantly: I believe that the construction of an 'original' painting tradition, just like in poetry, may be possible only when we set out from the very problem imposed on us by our intellectual history, which requires us to be Western and Eastern at the same time. It would not be a mistake, from my viewpoint, to say that so far only late Erol Akyavas, Peyami Gurel and to some extent Balkan Naci Islimyeli represent such an originality.
Grounding painting not in a land where history of nature and history of culture or civilization diverge, on the contrary in a land of imagination where they overlap! Perhaps, first, such an abstract statement needs some elucidation. The intellectual (look at ) history shows us that nature and culture have parted through technology ( using tools to produce tools) or, perhaps, through language ( not language of communication but language of imagination). It seems fhey diverged so as to never meet again, on the condition that biological presence of humankind in nature can be preserved. It is true the ways of culture and nature have parted. However, art is capable of removing this tangible split in the plane of imagination or conception. I think that what Peyami Gurel has been trying to do is such an act of removal: bringing together, in art, what have differed and parted in history. Joining nature with culture, and in fact transcending ( both ). We can also call this, if appropriate, a search for a primordial language, in which the real and imaginary have not yet differed...
I must also add: This does not exhibit aesthetics of the kind mentioned in 'The End of Modernity' by Giovanni Vattimo; but maybe it does! Vattimo points out to the central role given to aesthetics by Gianbattista Vico, who considers aesthetics to be "the source of civilization and culture", and by the Romantics trailing him. Is Peyami Gurel's view of painting such an aesthetization of culture and civilization? I do not suppose so. If asked, I would say his is more of transcendental: elevating nature's own writing ( which I call 'crude' writing ) and the writing of culture ( and 'refined' writing ) high above, if befitting, into a 'transcendental' writing. Peyami Gurel is calling us to read this 'transcendental' writing.
What is this 'transcendental' writing? (What is ) moving the 'crude' and 'refined' writing? Peyami Gurel does not issue the references to read the 'transcendental' writing. He only implies the 'transcendental' writing by blurring the distinction between the 'crude' and the 'refined', and that is all! Howewer, we can discover what this possibility summons for us by looking at the very act of blurring or removal. Here, the use of word 'discover' is not coincidental! Since only through discovering what is implied in this intent blurring, it is possible to comprehend the essence of the 'transcendental' writing.
Yes, let us ask again: what is this 'transcendental' writing that Peyami Gurel exalts. Is it the writing of Levh-i Mahfuz? Is it the object of the primary and the praised command of 'Read' (Iqra)? Peyami Gurel calls us to discover the transcendental writing --if no 'writing' what there to 'Read'?-- that surpasses nature and culture, which Nietzche would call the writing "that takes us to the heart of the hidden, to the mother of existence". ( He calls us ) to read and discover. In fact, are they not the same?
Peyami Gurel's paintings render a scheme of allegorical elevation (surpassion, or should I say 'ascension' ) that show the precedence of writing to speech ; a basic scheme.