The photographer Nazif Topcuoglu talks about his new and stirring show at Dubai's Green Art Gallery.
Green Art Gallery opens its 2012 program with a solo exhibition for the acclaimed Turkish photographer Nazif Topcuoglu presenting a new series of works. Marking the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, the show opens on January 11th and will be on view until March 13th 2012. A reception will be held on the 11th of January from 7 - 9 pm in the presence of the artist.
Known for his highly staged theatrical works typically featuring young girls living in lavish period backdrops, Nazif Topcuoglu’s photographs take on a nostalgic view of youth. While in his works, like Proust, he does not glorify a certain-definite- “past” era, he nonetheless implies a yearning for one's own youth or an imagined “golden age”. The way in which we as humans rate our experience as valuable is through moments that are imagined, be they in the past (half-remembered) or in the future (not yet realized).
This idealization of youth however, goes hand in hand with an overall sense of sadness and desperation felt by the artist. With the encroaching global problems facing the youth today, wars, famines, economical downturns, a hope for a better future becomes an idealization in itself. Topcuoglu, who is part of the generation who participated in the major upheavals the world faced in the 1960‘s, maintains that the sense of hope, of a view of changing the world experienced then, seems desolate and almost obsolete today.
The young female characters depicted in his works have grown up in this very context and are now facing the various adult issues of the day. Like a modern day Alice, they may be opposed and frustrated at every turn, but they are mostly dissenters not collaborationists, speaking up against the way people insist on the rightness of their conventional ways of doing things. Like in the Alice stories, these girls raise the voice of common sense against the arbitrary rules and unjust commandments of the grown-up world. It is for this reason that when looking at Topcuoglu’s seemingly ‘pretty’ images of attractive girls, the viewer nonetheless cannot help but sense a disturbing tension at what lies beneath.
Born in 1953, Nazif Topcuoglu graduated with a Masters degree from the Institute of Design in Chicago in 1981. Since then he has exhibited worldwide and has held several solo shows both in Istanbul and abroad, as well as publishing 3 books on the history and criticism of photography. Topcuoglu’s work was included in the Turkish pavillion during the 50th Venice biennale in 2003 and he has participated in various prestigious group shows including“ A Subjective Panorama of Contemporary Turkish Photography” as part of the Turkish Cultural Season in Paris at the Maison de Metallos in November 2009. His work is included in several public and private collections as well as several significant publications on contemporary art. These include: “Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives in Photography”, published by Phaidon in 2006, “User’s Manual: Contemporary Art in Turkey 1986-2006”, published by art-ist in 2007 and “Unleashed: Contemporary Art from Turkey” which was published by Transglobe in the spring of 2010.