Rafet Arslan’s first book was published by 6:45 Publishing House in 2010 and his first solo exhibition “Subconscious Operations” took place in 2012 at Sanatorium Gallery. Arslan being among the founders of Periferi Kolektif and Sürrealist Action Group, together with them has been involved in and has coordinated multiple exhibitions, performances and collective activities such as Destruction 2011, Ubik Project and Reality Terror. Also he is editor of the journal Siber Gnosis.
Arslan thinks that the “new” artist of the 21st century has to keep on trying persistently and find new ways of expression while preserving the fluid spirit of the day. According to Arslan as a consequence of this the 21st century artist should be a “mutant” border violator fearless of creating in fields he interrelates spiritually without adhering to any specific discipline. In an age where awareness and empathy continue to rise, an artist alongside the dream of realizing himself should also manage to internally nourish the fantasy of a world where art is within anyone’s means.
Collage, an art produced by re-fictionalizing printed matter and assemblage, doing this by establishing new relationships with objects are those elements that underline the genuine attitude of the artist- who can be described as a master of montage art- in the art scene of the country.
As per Arslan, art in the 21st century should comply with features of the age such as immediate existence, never ending speed, potential for change/transformation and increasing awareness. The reflection of this on the work of the artist whereas, should be in the form of feeling free to be eclectic, continuously searching for new connections, contexts, relationships and positioning these in the center of his production axis. This desire surely puts an emphasis on the approach of the artist ceaselessly thinking on the avant-garde tradition as of today and the spiritual bond he establishes with “ready-made” art practices he feels himself drawn to. The artist under the effect of this enthusiasm, with no hesitation intertwines his painting and collage, his sculpture and poetry.
Montage is situated in the center of the 21st century mutant art according to Arslan and he is well aware of the untouched position of this art in the country he lives in. He draws a sharp line between his own montage art and cut-up works produced instantaneously with a couple of magazines or printed materials, with no reference to any kind of fiction or story.
For him montage art, presenting possibilities of intersections/crossovers amongst diversities, in addition to being an aesthetical creation resulting in hybridization and removal of marginalization is as well the search for an ethical way of living that yearns for a world more worthwhile to live in, the search for a utopia. That’s why the artist approaches printed material that belongs to the cultural richness of the history of man and objects bearing traces/touches (life) experiences with intuitional love. Besides being objects these also carry the magical shadows of many different lives within them and undoubtedly the relationship the artist establishes with them is as spiritual as intuitional.
The artist with this very attention carries them into his paintings, montages. This rigor is by no means the outcome of a momentary kick. An artist at the same time is a “stalker”, a collector and sorter continually on search in the field. It is always possible to spot him in second-hand booksellers chasing for special editions or in antique shops and flea markets looking for a single object.
He accepts the subjective essence of each object he finds as intrinsic and takes it on his table of alchemy just to set out to redefine and entitle it. He is a sorter as much as he is a hoarder and an indexer as much as an encylopedist at the same time. He singles out the printed matter he has discovered in accurateness similar to that of a surgeon’s, cuts, classifies and files it. His endeavor for cataloging certainly reminds one of the work of a librarian.
The artist then proceeds with the production phase of his process. He first sets up a story for himself, then takes out equivalents of the images he has chosen from his archive and continues with the fictional dimension of his production using the material. In the course of this practice, while paying all his respect to the printed matter he has cut, the colors and the divinity the paint creates on a surface, he juxtaposes and combines in all their diversity and richness his paintings or objects.
The artist certainly is well aware of the “revolutionary energy embodied in this worn out/disgraced objects” in the words of Walter Benjamin. He takes up objects left to their own devices by our consumption oriented lives and by means of his art blows a spirit into them.