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The contemporary artist and fashion designer Hussein Chalayan (b. 1970, Nicosia-Cyprus) can be described as a cross-border interpreter of cultural and historical climates. The video installments of Chalayan can be categorized as spiritual and intellectual rituals in which his designs set themselves adrift in their own time, space, and stories.

These short and long narratives  like Aeroplane Dress (2001), Ambimophous (2002), Place to Passage (2003), Compassion Fatigue, Temporal Meditations, The Pod (2004) and Anaesthetics (2005) are technically perfect displays of light, gesture, choreography, and drama. They enthrall the viewer on a fundamental level.

Time, space, subject or object are permanent and dominant fixtures in Chalayan’s design palette. In the words of Rosa Martinez, former Chief Curator of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: “Chalayan’s art explores the politics of beauty in relation to the polarized nature of the era and examines how the social and cultural landscape that surround us shape the emergence of the personality.

Accordingly, it would be fitting to call Chalayan the global climate scientist of the human identity. As an example, the artist’s Repose II titled work shares its own melancholy and individuality with the viewer thanks to such simple, and international transfer indicators like “plane,” “counter/time code” or “passenger seat” that are recognized everywhere in the same context.

The artist laid down the most fitting building blocks of this dynamic plane with the work “Absent Presence” commissioned as part of the Turkey Pavilion curated by Beral Madra at the 51st International Venice Biennale (2005) .

Chalayan collaborated with Tilda Swinton, winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 80th Academy Awards (2008), on this work, which was screened between June 12 and November 6, 2005 and later moved to Istanbul, to be exhibited at Galerist. The work sees Swinton portray two different characters in a groundbreaking performance.

The constructive criticism and contradiction is also evident in Chalayan’s “Abandoned Plane” from 2004.  The artist uses his own image alongside an old and abandoned passenger jet wreck of Cyprus Airways to confront his own past and current state.

The woeful awareness regarding the impermanence of the world and its meaning makes itself apparent in Hussein Chalayan’s Ambimorphous titled photograph dating back to 2002. This panoramic work aestheticizes how the hybrid culture codes adorning Cyprus (the woman) have evolved over time.

This pioneering/avant-garde approach of conferring new functionality to objects is a recurring motif in Chalayan’s works and is also evident in his Paper Mail Dress dating back to 1999. This work sees the artist use a simple and universal symbol/object, a letter envelope, to open up brand new doors for allegoric creation. This approach can also be observed in Chalayan’s merging critique of the subject’s sociological and cultural relation with the object in his Geotropics – Layer Dresses titled pieces.

In addition, the artist and fashion designer’s Reduction Room from 1999 makes it possible to witness and partake in the realization synthesis of the existentialist communication between the human and the object. Chalayan once again strives to create, understand, and interpret -alongside his audience- the calculations necessary to determine the way and level of observation the halo and reflection of his design necessitates.

One of Chalayan’s signature trademarks, the use of “painting” designs on his creations is most evident in the “Temporary Interference” series.

The artist and fashion designer has been awarded with the MBE on June 17, 2006. His creations have captivated the likes of Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama.

Some of Chalayan’s selected solo exhibitions are as follows: Arts Décoratifs, Paris (2011);  Istanbul Modern, Istanbul (2010); Contemporary Art Museum, Tokyo (2010); Design Museum, London (2009); The Groninger Museum, Groningen (2005); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2003); V&A Museum London (2001);  7th Istanbul Biennale (2001); Tate Modern, (2001).

 

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