Mustafa Pilevneli: The Artist and His Work
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"Pilevneli is an artist who can extend beyond just two dimensions and can transform any material into an artwork. He is an artist who can feel and have respect for what an architect wishes to express in a building, and can blend his artwork into the architectural expression." — Cengiz Bektas, Turkish architect who recommended that Pilevneli create the Shapiro Library mural.
When the academy of Applied Fine Arts opened in Istanbul in 1957, Mustafa Pilevneli was one of its first students. His generation was to continue the pioneering work of recent predecessors such as Mustafa Aslier and Aliye Berger. In their search for new outlets for graphic and plastic expression, these artists have made striking contributions to international contemporary art.
Study in the Istanbul academy provided Pilevneli with the basics of drawing, painting and design, preparing him for subsequent studies in Germany. Pilevneli mastered the theories and techniques of the Bauhaus School, with its emphasis on the fundamentals of visual composition — color, light, and form — with additional attention to function.
Pilevneli has worked successfully in various media and environments. His endeavors in plastic media include ceramic figures and metal or plaster sculpture. In graphics he has used oil, watercolor, and metal engraving for printmaking. His glass and Plexiglas carvings combine the plastic and graphic.
His works are on display around the world, including pieces in the Smithsonian Institution, installations in the Ataturk Cultural Center in Istanbul, the University of Ankara, and now U-Ms Shapiro Library.
In his paintings and etchings, Pilevneli has applied and augmented lessons from his larger installations. Carving light and sculpting movement are key to his murals; his graphic work is characterized by the interaction of texture and motif.
Principal motifs throughout his career have been the body — as love and goddess — the house, the mosque, the cityscape, and nature. Many of his prints are dream-like or poetic. The subtle contrasts suggest an illusion, usually a distant memory or mythical figure "swimming" around a well-known monument evoking yet another aspect of the Turkish past.
Pilevneli mixes Anatolian and Ottoman motifs in ways similar to the poetry of Nazim Hikmet and Attila Ilhan. While an Ottoman miniature or poem might present an enclosed garden, in Pilevnelis work nature now encompasses and permeates the cityscape. Love is no longer reflected in descriptions of the rose, the nightingale or the beloveds cheek, but in the coupling of mythological bodies. Symbols, images and ideas accumulated over time intermingle in the present.