Bahar Oganer

Bahar Oganer

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Greener Pastures, Bahar Oganer’s first solo exhibition in Berlin, opened on Wednesday 30th of April, 2014. Oganer uses the figure to symbolize the sensitive, permeable boundary between the individual’s inner and outer worlds. The woman escaping from the universe of truth, taking refuge in the universe of dreams, is filled with a sad romance, a deep nostalgia for the unknown. Despite the sadness in them, these compositions are loaded with a childlike spirit never to be lost, a sincere hope for the future, for the expected.

Oganer’s works maintain their painterly character thanks to the artist’s fine craftsmanship and the artist approaches detail as an aesthetic element in her decorative patterns. On the other hand, the exhibition brang side by side the large-scale paintings identified with Oganer’s artistic persona, with Salon Dahlmann’s widespread windows. Greener Pastures also presents for the first time the artist’s series of small-scale portraits seamed onto fabric stretched on embroidery hoops.

Bahar Oganer’s painting resembles a window the artist opens from her inner world to the outside, which she wishes to cross in the viewer’s company. Oganer uses the lonely and fragile figure looking out through the window, carried away by the horizon or by a book, to symbolize the sensitive, permeable boundary between the individual’s inner and outer worlds. The woman escaping from the universe of truth, taking refuge in the universe of dreams, is filled with a sad romance, a deep nostalgia for the unknown. She is not in the moment; she is entirely someplace else. She compels us to join her in her journey to that world of mystery, to empathize with her, to share her dreams, to listen to her story. The fact that the paintings do not give away a geographical or cultural context facilitates the empathy. The viewer, who follows the figure from a very close distance, is invited into the artist’s mind; from there, in the artist’s company, then sets sail towards his own horizon.

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The choice of naming the exhibition as Greener Pastures, the idiom meaning ‘a better, more exciting job, place or life option’, is deliberate. Despite the sadness they carry, these compositions are loaded with a childlike spirit never to be lost, a sincere hope for the future, for the expected. Although Oganer’s amusing, colorfully dressed figure existing in a space surrounded by bright colors is reminiscent of fictional, fairy tale characters such as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she belongs to a realistic world. The color and the form the artist is using in a way to bring illustration into mind, contributes to the optimistic atmosphere even further.

Despite their close kinship with illustration, Oganer’s works maintain their painterly character thanks to the artist’s fine craftsmanship. Even avoiding ascribing a face to the figure, Oganer approaches detail as an aesthetic element in her decorative patterns. The principal area where she attributes conceptuality to pattern are the figure’s stockings; they tell even more than her face about her multicolored, enthusiastic personality that does not give itself away at first sight. They express her character, her passion, the living joy that she often loses and regains in the face of the real world and its cruelties; they simultaneously harbor joy and sadness.

The exhibition’s structure is based on the close interaction between the space and the artworks. It brings side by side the large-scale paintings identified with Oganer’s artistic persona and creating a window perception, with Salon Dahlmann’s widespread windows, one aligned next to the other throughout the space. Each painting is reminiscent of an enormous book cover hidden in the wall and evokes the sensation that we would find a long story behind it. On the other hand, we encounter for the first time in this exhibition the artist’s series of small-scale portraits seamed onto fabric stretched on embroidery hoops. Leaving the viewer face-to-face with the figure, remaining completely outside of the artist’s material, dimensional and technical vocabulary, these portraits depict real individuals from Oganer’s life. When juxtaposed with the other artworks, they emphasize their ‘female’ identity; they also establish an artistic breaking point. The context Oganer has carefully been avoiding in other works now has the leading role: the artist’s autobiographic memory and the presence of manual labor as a woman, generates a curious path towards the artist’s future inclinations.

Greener Pastures promises an artistic experience combining Bahar Oganer’s yesterday, today and tomorrow, filled with both sadness and hope.

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