Melike Kara, where we meet (detail), 2020 / Photo Paul Schöpfer
Melike Kara: Emine’s Garden
Jul 8 – Sep 24, 2023
Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen
St. Gallen, Switzerland

Melike Kara (*1985, lives and works in Cologne) develops her painterly work alongside the writing of poetry and the production of sculptures, videos and other media. The experimental use of surfaces is a characteristic of her paintings, which are treated with thick oil pastels, for example, or the use of foreign materials such as textiles.

In her first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland, Kara continues her exploration of Kurdish traditions and questions of historicization, tradition and community. She will realise site-specific works in a large-scale installation that will transform the spaces of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen into her own visual archive.

The photographs stem from family members and Kara’s extended network of relationships, an archive that the artist is continuously compiling. Like a carpet, the photographs will cover the floor of the Kunst Halle. Together with the paintings, in which Kara articulates her very own visual language, the installation reveals itself as a series of meditations on collective images.

Through the collection and rearrangement of the material heritage, as well as the combination with gestural-abstract compositions, Kara’s personal gaze unfolds as an intimate narrative of her own family history and the visual culture of the Kurdish diaspora. The large-scale occupation of the space unfolds as an intimate and at the same time political gesture. Thus giving visibility to the disappearing population, whose culture is only maintained through informal channels and oral traditions, and to their history.

Drawing on various weaving techniques and customs, Kara abstracts, layers, and interweaves her family history with Kurdish tapestry motifs from different regions and tribes in the exhibition. The ambiguity between abstraction and figuration, individual and collectivity, which is inherent in these tapestries, is constituted in the spatial arrangement but also as a particularity of her paintings into a visual testimony of a collective visual language and at the same time the artist`s very own.

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