Astronomy Picture Of The Day


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Osman Can Yerebakan

The promise in tension constitutes silent explosions and deafenings stillnesses. Somewhere between the comfort in the known and the challenge of the ambiguous, painting can suggest an answer, a liquidly-bordered definition of the perceived. Yağız Özgen’s paintings inhabit a territory of firm assumptions and interchangeable truths. Space—with its gargantuan mysteries and optic luster—lays the ground for the Istanbul-based artist’s acrylic works and mixed-media installations. Systematic yet kinetic, Özgen’s surfaces stem from regimented brushstrokes towards unfettered results, or in his murals, he relies on the immediacy of his fingertips to apply paint directly onto walls. A wide breadth of color spectrums wash over the surface, a wave of chromatic conduction proceeds and fluctuates throughout a grid. Hallucinatory and soothing, his abstract visual lexicon occupies the tension between painting’s bodily rituals and the resulting images’ allusion to the digital space.

The Telltale Reddish Emission From Knots of Material (2023) is a triptych formed to respond to a corner at DIANA with two panels hung on one wall and one panel on the other. The procession from scorching red hues into nocturnal blues is based on “Pillars of Creation,” the image of gas pillars in the Eagle Nebula (M16), entered into NASA’s photography website “Astronomy Picture of the Day” on October 20, 2022. The 27-year old platform releases one picture of the universe a day, shot by amateur or professional astronomy photographers and often colored by astronomer painters based on different wavelength data. Özgen encountered the website while scrolling NASA’s website, and while intrigued by the project’s daily commitment, the painterly intrusion into the pictures through available scientific data fascinated him. The entanglement between the tactility of painting and the unquantifiable formations of clouds, gas, and dust prompted an urge to reconfigure the potentials of color.

In his installation which also features a layout of pigment pouches over a table, Özgen deconstructs the otherwise appealingly-colored telescopic image of a cloud formation into its chromatic codes. While red and blue dominate the surface, the complexions penetrate into darker tints, stretching to pastel tinges. Uniting an overall number of 1.392 tones on canvas, Özgen orchestrates a relationship between the known and the uncharted, visualizing our romantically human relationship with space into a pigmented matter. The pouches respond to the hues used in the painting throughout the grid formation, with the expression “Knots of Material” inscribed on a tag in each bag. From light orange to bold blue, these alchemies of water, pigment, and acrylic correspond with the painting’s initial form, but for Özgen, the constellation of the pouches is yet another abstraction, that foregrounds the wall triptych’s flattened spatial depth with texture. On a practical level, separating the paint into small bags slows down their drying process which would otherwise be expedited by exposure to air. Sealed off, each batch defies nature’s brutal rhythm of transforming any tangible material, large or small, or tangible or fleeting.


Gauging the spatial form was indeed a starting point for Özgen who conceptualized the installation without ever setting foot on the gallery space. His attempt rather resulted from an imagination of the interior’s architectural cues and the work’s physical positioning within the surrounding light, sound, and geometry. Given the artist’s interest in shuffling the borders of the grid on canvas, the calculation of the space is particularly poignant. Through bearing ample varieties of shades on his palette, Özgen blurs the optic imposition of the grid form: between colors that near one another in hue, the eye loses the trace of a geometric network and rather assumes the painterly bliss of acrylics coalescing without borders, not unlike universe’s explosive and still order.

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