When asked why her porcelain works are unpainted, Turkish artist Melis Buyruk answered that adding color to nature dictates meaning. “I like to avoid using descriptive elements such as color,” she said in an interview about her recent exhibition Habitats at Leila Heller Gallery. “I also prefer to encourage the spectator to immers(e) themselves into the work, and get lost in the details, discovering something new with each viewing. Using color would separate forms more succinctly, and I am interested in non-hierarchical hybridity.”
Based in Istanbul, Buyruk creates monochromatic fields that are concentrated with realistic flowers, succulents, and mosses. Many of the large-scale works span more than four feet and are encased in wooden boxes. The artist discreetly situates a pig, hawk, and bearded dragon, among other birds and rodents, near the center. Look closer, though, and spot human ears and lips.
By embedding animals and anatomy evenly into the botanical topography, Buyruk hopes to dismantle hierarchies of species and reject the idea of human superiority. She also has chosen animals that inspire fearful reactions from people.
Certain animals pose a serious threat to human evolution, which has been engraved in our DNA. We find some animals uncomfortable or frightening because (of) their shape or color, causing us to negatively and incur a ‘flight’ response. I wanted to juxtapose our age-old, biologically rendered fear against our socially conditioned admiration for flowers, and position them together.
Buyruk noted that while quarantined in her home because of the coronavirus pandemic, she’s been thinking about the instability of people’s control over nature. “What we experienced during the pandemic process enabled us to face the weaknesses of the human species again,” she said. For more of the artist’s impeccably detailed habitats, head to Instagram.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member and support independent arts publishing. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, help support our interview series, gain access to partner discounts, and much more. Join now!