Akbaş is an artist who has exhibited his works in around two hundred exhibitions, an artist who has been
the subject of hundreds of articles, newspaper stories, radio and television broadcasts and
documentaries. According to some, a childish, sentimental judge who jokingly confesses his crimes and
strikes the modern world unmercifully. His art, which opens to weird universes, is closely, related to the
last century of the western art. It is a century nurtured with the folk art, acquainted with introversion,
free from the known reality, a century which begins with Kandinsky's expressionism, passing through the
northern primitivism of the Cobra society and reaches to the free figuration of the American Basquiat.. /
But when giving an old text a headline, he mostly associates himself with the expression Karagöz From
The North Sea: Ahmet Onay was born in 1963, Fatsa, by the shore; son of a religious, educated,
republican father. The surname Akbaş comes from the harbour in Çanakkale in which their grandfather
had served in the army.
In'73, when their father passes away, he leaves behind an unsettled Turkey: Fatsa has become the
battlefield of the nationalists and the leftist groups. Their mother, who became a widow at an early age,
is trying to bring up her children. The children help their mother harvest crops in the fields in which they
played their first childhood games, and they complete their higher education. Onay rises above the
crowd with his talent in science and painting.
At the age of 15, he claims the second place in a national painting contest. Onay then gets expelled from
high school due to his political activity. Nonetheless, he manages to get into the university after the
university exam in Fatsa, he applies for the astronomy and technology department because of his desire
to be a cosmonaut, however, he gets rejected. In 1980, he starts his college education in Marmara
University Painting Department, to be a art and art history teacher. Like many students, he serves time,
he often gets arrested by the police. Finally, he gets tuberculosis and gets treated in the sanatorium. The
personal memories in his paintings, outcomes of the similar experiences of the expressionists, have
overtones of sickness and death. However, the scenery, composed of his childhood memories, is merely
the reflection of a universal childhood.
The path that he followed since his first paintings in '85 in Maltepe to his paintings that emerge in Paris
today, his artworks that are exhibited in Berlin, Zurich, Seul and Istanbul are consistent in themselves.
Every painting from the first one to the last, invites us to discretion, flexibility and awarenes and grants
pleasure, vitality and freedom in return. "I'm not attached to anywhere" claims Akbas, "the source which
mankind comes from only becomes interesting when it's taken to originality" Nowadays the artists are
living more lonely, but needs to take part in a movement more than ever. Painting is a luminous, healing
tool, necessary and vital for each and every day. A tool for creating a non-existent, or existent but
hidden, sincere world that should be known better - why shouldn't we share?-, asking questions and
bringing forward proposals." He is participative. We should remember the exhibitions that Akbas has
organised in Paris, especially for the Turkish artists; "I share almost everything and it gives me joy to set
something in motion in somebody else's life. But, I want this to work in an interchangeable way.
Because, among the artists, we get richer as we share. Like Hugo said: "The soul gets richer as it takes,
and the heart as it gives".
The only thing that he can't stay away is art, because he feels as he is just in his own world: "I love this
space that eliminates seperations". The boy from Fatsa without a father and wealth has knocked on the
doors of Paris and entered forth, leaving his identity at that point: "The one with a known source is
perceived as marginal". The young man traces the hero Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, reviews the places
that he painted in, and thinks that he is a member of the sun painters family. He wants his paintings to
explode, he wants them to scream about the world and the difficulties of living in the world. His palette
is always denser, and his lines, always more stormy. "All this were very natural" he says, "I need art to
get rid of mediocrity". And in less than even a year, just when he was 25, his large paintings meet with
their first buyers and take their places in galleries that are in search of innovation, spontaneity and
vitality. "Art," he claims, "is a runner journey, a promenade between the roots, that we take in a single,
"Since we share the same country and dream, you would say that this young artist with a similar path to
mine doesn't paint, it's like he is exploding" says Nedim Gürsel, "he has a lot to show us, lots of
memories, excitements and admirations. The new figuration which he presents himself through, suits
his temperament perfectly. The human figure, the indisputable hero of the animated scenes is now free
of classic obligings. This figure, painted with alive and intuitional brush strokes is stylistically closely
related to the puppets, an essential part of the Ottoman culture, as well as children's paintings."
After his first theme, The Scarecrows, the artist has made the breakthrough of the new paintings that he
will create with his series dedicated to The World, Game Stage, starting from '92.
Every period is a theme from the world perceived as an animation, the life observed as a play, until it's
consumed in every couple of years and a new topic is determined. The entities on the stage are poetic
and frisky, and their situations are ironic. To quote his own words, in his artworks based on work,
calculations and instincts, the artist first animates his people like puppets with human limbs backstiched
to the canvas, like the articulated limbs of Karagöz. The colourful forms that create the scene are like the
sarcastic, colourful expressions of the rag bag of poverty. Rare details like the TV receiver, hunt booty,
olympic square, spur, plane table placed on the scene symbolise memory, effort and trickery. His playful
characters, painted with childish proportions, look around with the eyes of the newly domesticated
animals. Their weirdly stitched mouths that remind ruptures, their angular bodies, strange eyelids, chins,
knees, elbows, scars and medical dressings exclusive to the '90s depict, to quote Françoise Monin, "the
inevitability of playing with dreams and pounding a beat between coincidences in order to survive in this
stage called the world". On the other hand, Akbaş has found his heroes: "The losers, the majority that
could not write the history. Such a shame, because their unknown masterpieces look nothing alike the
winners'. The forgotten ones, that's what interests me". In the following years, these similar, nameless,
universal people will develop their postures and process, and as the members of the same and unique
tribe lost between the noise of the modern age, they will be the witnesses of the behaviour of the
majority of mankind. "Everything in my life and art is political" says the artist, "there are no boundaries
between life and art. That's why I wander on the streets wearing the same clothes that I wear in my
studio. Politics make life bearable, it even relaxes it. The same goes for art as well".
Akbaş's creation not only contains imaginary emphasis and poetic adjustments, but also has concrete
statements about the modern world. And as an artist with growing fame who has exhibited his work in
the entire continent of Europe and even in countries beyond, for instance Korea, his style of expressing
the body and space becomes even more geometrical. Frederic Amblard, an artist and a writer, talks
about powerful silhouettes bonded in a colourful disintegration of space in the catalogue of Alkent
Actuel Art in 1997: "The colour needed to express life itself transfers the motion of a society subject to
criticism into imaginariness".
"I want to go further away" says the artist; "my painting is like me, lives like me. I take the risk of
designing diptychs and tondos. All these efforts, just to extract what I have inside better, if we want to
be known better, we shouldn't be afraid of more intimacy". Akbaş, who compares the same scenes on
two seperate canvas in monochrome and polychrome styles in his series The Moment and Memory, says
"the memory has no colour, l wanted to express both the memory and the moment in the same scene
and ask the question of the past, the trace left behind". Thus, he introduces a more modern inquisition
through classical animation: "Even though I know that art feeds from tiresome tensions and contrasts, I
worship the harmony and peace deep inside my heart". The own structures of the aforementioned
diptychs revive the concepts of contradiction and discrimination that construct the essence of Akbaş's
style and his reason for painting. What are the scenes that he always animates? In reality, they are
confrontations of many men and women, mothers and children, painter and the model. What about the
spaces that the scenes take part in?
The adjacencies inevitably rejuvenated with wallpapers created with different patterns and colours,
stapled side-by-side without dissolving in one other. In this universe, everything talks about standing
side by side without encountering, intimacy without merging, in a nutshell, loneliness. Accessories such
as the mirror, camera, costume and model, everything in this creation is always about the problem of
confrontation; associated within the context of pair, same and the other, identical and different. In the
series the incompletes, the artist continues his journey on a single canvas. "The incomplete, unpainted
part of the painting lets us see it's preparation and it is in conflict with the completed surface
somewhere else. In fact, that was the tension that I was looking for when I've put green next to red". The
painted surface of the painting, the metaphorical skin of the painting is partly incomplete. So,
amusement skillfully takes it's place in a single and unique composition and the observer is called to
imagine what's missing in this respite in his own fantasy. The incomplete part captures the eye and
forces it to find the missing part. Just like a child looking at a colouring book: the last touch will be made
by the observer.
"Everything persists. Today's reality is not tomorrow's reality. Hence, there is no right in giving a
definition to the events in progress."
Akbaş, the painter of humaneness humour, is also the painter of the relativity of the humaneness state.