Following on from Max Wigram Gallery's presentation of Mustafa Hulusi and Mark Titchner's The Worshippers (November 2009), the gallery will show Hulusi's Afyon, a four screen film work.
In Afyon, the camera pans across fields of poppies, an endless sea of stems and buds that envelop us in a languid sensuality. The mournful strains of the oud enhance this tranquil landscape and Hulusi's installation immerses the viewer, floor to ceiling, in floral abundance.
A Turkish Cypriot, born and educated in the UK, Hulusi's work has always involved looking at his culture and identity. He draws inspiration from his visits to Turkey, where he has become fascinated by the very visible layering of history, evident in the archaeological remains sitting cheek by jowl with modern buildings. By extension, he is interested in the evolution of identity, how his own family, whose origins were a mixture of the peoples who travelled and traded on the silk road - from Frankish invaders to Venetian merchants, Turkic nomads to Persian craftspeople - is now becoming British.
The seductive fields of Hulusi's Afyon are also subtly woven with a complex social and political history. The word 'Afyon' comes from the province in Western Turkey where it is thought that the poppy originated. From time immemorial, the opiate form of the plant has been used as an aid to worship, an intoxicating substance to intensify the religious experience; it has been used as a poison by assassins; then for medicinal purposes; it has been the subject of wars that resulted in Britain's imposition of punitive trading laws on China; but also and, more latterly, as a source of income to fund the current anti-colonial wars in Afghanistan. Hulusi's work, set in what was the centre of opium production, thus carries more than a simple sensory pleasure, however light the artist's touch.
This exhibition replaces Cory Arcangel's scheduled show, 'Big Middle'.
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Hulusi's (b. 1971, London, UK) solo shows include: 'Obliteration and Memory' at Patrick Painter (Los Angeles) and 'The Ruins' at Hulusi's artist run space The Civic Rooms. He also participated in group shows at the Saatchi Gallery (London) and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (Sunderland, UK). In 2007 Hulusi represented the Republic of Cyprus at the 52nd International Exhibition of Contemporary Art of La Biennale di Venezia and had solo exhibitions at A-Foundation, Liverpool, and Max Wigram Gallery. Since 2002 he has taken part in group exhibitions in the UK and internationally including Fall Out; War and Conflict in the British Council Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, London. When We Build, Let Us Think That We Build Forever, BALTIC, Gateshead, UK; Into Me Out of Me at P.S.1/MOMA (NY) and Kunst-Werke (Berlin); Abstraction - Extracting from Reality, Millennium Galleries (Sheffield); East International 05, Norwich Art Gallery (Norwich); This is England, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (Sunderland).