Thursday, 5 March 2015



STILLED, from the  RAJASTHAN Series.
Art First has great pleasure in announcing that two works from her
recent exhibition,
Stilled: Photographs from the Rajasthan Series, have
entered The Government Art Collection

Magic Lights, Archival Photographic Print 107x70 cm
Gular Ates' sumptuous works are sensual, complex and timeless. The interior is of the City Palace Museum in Udaipur, a building founded in 1559. She was inspired by stories told about the palace and the layers of history associated with the architecture of the place, and was given free reign to move among its elegant rooms. There she found wall paintings, mirrors, coloured glass and patterned walls.  She trod on rich floor coverings showing signs of wear, and glimpsed exterior courtyards and sanctuaries. These are the spaces where the women of the household once lived.

In the three works shown  the solitary figures are ambiguous. Her model, a classical Indian dancer, is wearing fabrics the artist bought from Udaipur's local markets and textile factory: saturated vermilions, explosive golds. The newly-minted cloth folds and falls, cascading to the ground. She is hidden, yet dazzlingly present. Each faces a door or an arch or a corridor. She seems to combine Middle Eastern exoticism with Victorian propriety; dazzling luminosity with the darkness and intensity of  17 and 18 C Dutch interior paintings. For example, in many of his early paintings, Vermeer offers a sympathetic view of a strong, solitary woman in service to someone else, whether Diana, Christ, a customer, or the mistress of the household.

Guler Ates is a Turkish artist and Stilled is her second solo show at ArtFirst.  It has been described as "a refreshing. intelligent and gently feminist portrayal of an India imagined and experienced with sympathy and understanding of...the challenging realities when western cultures impact on...ancient traditional worlds". These works question the Western notion of Orientalism, of harems, of women's complicit subjection so often  portrayed by Western artists. Does a veil conceal or tease? When cultures meet, how Is our understanding of female identity enriched? Do the pictures allude to the tension of dual identity?
These beautiful images are silent and still.They are not narrative paintings; they do not lend themselves to the  spoken or written word. 

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