Behind Mount QAF, Heaven

Behind Mount QAF, Heaven

I was visited the exhibition of art ‘’Behind Mount Qaf’’ by curator Canan Gürlek at ARTER  art gallery in Istiklal Street. I will thoroughly examine the work of ‘’HEAVEN’’ which is my most favorite artwork, as well as brief reviews on various works on all the galleries.

Behind the mount qaf exhibition consists of animal kingdom, women bathing in moonlight, there is much evil out there, bird woman, heaven, purgatory and the wonders of creation artworks. The works of the artist are not of a single kind but of works assembled with various techniques such as sculpture, photography, printing, embroidery, video, installation and miniature. The name of the exhibition comes from the mount qaf, which has a legendary place in Arabic and Persian cosmology. The Curator has created a universe that is multi-dimensional, mystical, astonishing, and break to taboos using surrealist creatures, genies, two-sex bodies in this exhibition.

Canan Gürlek works are also covering 3 layers of the art gallery.  On the three floors where this universe was created  first floor paradise, second floor purgatory and the third floor is designed to reflect the hell. This spatial arrangement leads to think that the heaven is located in a more earthly space  while purgatory is  the transit and hell  as a place we create with our own fears.

Behind the mount of qaf are people, genres, animals, and gods trying to form a new order, a new whole, where they all live together. The main sensation in the artist’s exhibition is that it embodies all forms of sexual, mental and physical pluralism, awareness of the beauty created by diversity, and the promise of liberation from all sorts of systems we have been captivated with.

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Heaven an artwork created by  Curator Canan Gürlek  in 2017, Turkey. Heaven is one of the most striking parts of the extensive exhibition of Behind the mount qaf of the curator. Heaven is the important work of the exhibition in terms of reflecting the fact that the real paradise of people live together with our differences. The message of how the differences coexist in the work and how the union awakens the outside is conveyed. heaven’s work indicates that people’s ideas are the real paradise of man. Heaven, the original work of the artist, is made after other similar works and have a feature that complement them. An artwork is placed on the entrance floor of the art gallery. The artwork can be seen both in the entrance and the hanging floor. It can also be seen from the Istiklal Street. Besides being able to see the work, it also has a strange sound. With these features, the work creates reactions  in the viewer’s mind and causing the viewer to think deeply about the work.

When it examine the heaven with artistic views that Heaven, a moving sculpture that revolves around itself determined the contact of the layer. It shaped with a cylindrical tulle, and the shadows of these figures reflected on the walls and through the light-shadow play, establishes links between the visible and invisible, real and fictional worlds. Free bodies and humane desires are processed together with rainbow colors, there are various animals, stars, moon and sun on the surface of the tulle. The shadows on the wall mix with masculine and feminine characteristics. and as they approach them, the shadows in the audience mix with them so that the integrity that the artist wants to reflect is forming.

Canan Gürlek gave an interview for the Arter site, She refers that when the exhibition takes place, first states I have a sad mood for this reason the first theme of the exhibition came out with ‘’AH’’ concept. Because of the fact that we have  individually and socially troubled days. Then the process was different. It has turned into self-discovery, self-direction, and self-awareness and  thinking how to accomplishment individually and collectively about these problems.[1]She benefits from Jung’s the shadow archetype that taking inspiration the themes on her exhibition. [2]She generally focuses on cycles that appear to be contradictory, but in fact complement each other such as dark-bright,good-bad,woman-male, within the process she fronts ‘’Behind The Mount Qaf’’ concepts instead of ‘’ah’’.

Canan Gürlek chooses  theme of the mount qaf , because of the fact that In Islamic mythology, the mountain of qaf is mother of all mountains also linked to the other mountains and surrounded by a dark ocean. The qaf which consists of gines,  angels dragons, phoenix , gog and magog that it is impossible to reach.[1]

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On the one hand it is the impossible to reach, it is a  process of try to reaching yourself. These exhibition consists of a process for find oneself. The Qaf Mount and  self-discovery are not far away. Jinns and demons are creating our fears within us. When we face our fears in us, we have a message asking us to realize how unnecessary we are when we face our shadows, and realize that hell that we created in ourselves never really existed. And it says that you do not need a savior or a hero to get rid of this hell. We are the best. We can form a union by sharing our greetings by creating a union of societal and collective close friends. Hell is on the third floor because actually there is no hell on the exhibition. We have our own hell born of our fears. Purgatory is actually a place where sin and reward are equal. According to Canan Gürlek Heaven represents the waiting period to reach Islamic mythology. The healing process. The process of getting rid of bitterness. Waiting process. the process of purification from the fears.[1]Heaven is the first floor and a place where the feet rise. A secular environment. Heaven is an environment that can be established together. An improved world, love, good nature, good man, loving integrity. A place where people are friendly to each other with animals and nature. The artist emphasizes that heaven can also be established in this world. There is no need for another world.[1] Thus we can say that Just being human is enough. We need to love. Together we shall purify our fears.

This work is a sign of heavenly metaphor. And the naked body of a person who forms a whole with binary bodies, animals, nature, the sun represents heaven. The metaphor of feeling born of unity represents heaven. The artist’s positioning of objects at work, the use of color, the use of sound and the distortion of shapes are achieved in such a way that it is human nature, the outward emotion of which is physical reality. The heaven artwork can be evaluated in terms of shape, light and value, texture, color, area, pattern, time and movement that consists of Tulle, sequin, rope, fabric, bell, light, motor and create a composition with these art elements.

Actually, the composition is quite simple but impressive. The colors used in the work are quite remarkable and vivid colors. Also  the colors are placed on a horizontal line, the objects are in a vertical line. The colors also turn into warmer colors from top to bottom creating a more emphatic impression. It also positioned the colors on the backplane and brought the objects to the foreground of the viewer. In addition to all this, the artist has created a whole with sounds and shadows reflected in the wall. She gives the message of heaven she wanted to give. The heaven includes implied line with the bottom as a ground clared red color, and also contour line with the bodies of human. In this artwork, different psychological lines create a mental and perceptual relationship between the figures. Some people look at her feet, some people look to the earth, some people look to the each other, some one does not.

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Short, vigorous lines shape the ground clared red level and give it a sharp. The heaven gives a message with horizontal lines  that suggest stability,vertical lines  that defy gravity and suggest assertiveness and with diagonal lines  that imply movement and directionality.Light, colors and value are also most important elements of visual  art. Because language connects emotion with colors. And values and sound also be used to evoke emotional response in the viewer. The vivid, high energy and insparing emotions in Heaven artwork depict emotional unity with vivid and warm colors in the picture. The use of all colors created a rainbow image. the rainbow colors are also making a positive call to variety and diversity and calling for unity. Also Heaven has   actual texture and continous narrative. If we will explain the picture to the design principles, we should mention some details such as unity,variety and balance .

Canan Gürlek has benefited from color harmony to combine unity and diversity. Also the heaven has asymmetrical balance due to the position of main figure and others.In general the artist benefited from the nature of the colors and achieved a unity and continuity by catching the color harmony.  On the other hand The male organ in women, like many legs at the animal, has created some objecific differences, dimensional asymmetry that make the audience strange. All of which is aimed at awakening different thoughts in the audience and destroying gender stereotypes. Also heaven is  three dimensional artwork and has rythm. Value contrast that the degrees of difference between shades of gray is providing with shadows on the wall. Curator benefits from both visual unity with color, shape, composition and also Visual Unity  has a common theme or concept of unity ,love, peace senses. Also it provides bilateral symmetry with every objects has harmony and rythtm and with position of people. In general, the objects have cross movements, which also induces a movement in the audience. but since the work is a work that revolves around itself, the objects seem to be in a continuous motion. we can say that people are looking for themselves in this work. this search will be in a place that shows people, nature, animals can live in a whole. it is heaven on earth.

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The context is the most important part of Heaven.When it is examined in terms of the context of the work of heaven, it is actually a work that has a lot of context, can be examined in many different contexts. In the context of religion with the proposition that it promises a paradise in this world, heaven, hell and purgatory concept and the psychological state of man, sociological aspects of society’s stereotypes of people on social structures, the position of men and importance of man in political terms, the heavenly hell which human can attain through his/her attitudes in this world,to interpret the effects, diversity and cultural aspects of life, nature people, animals and sexual phenomena in terms of intellectual aspects,the material responses of abstract emotions to materialism, the reflection of sexuality of woman and man with feminism and it is generally associated with humanism because it is a work aimed at the healing of man.

If we need to focus on a general context, we can talk about the religious context by going from the heaven, the hell and the purgatory, which are the main theme of the exhibition.The work has an opinion that it is possible to see behind the qaf mountain in the myth of Islam is possible to reach behind it. The qaf of the Islamic mythology is actually the greatest metaphor there. The artist has gone out of religious terms and has actually disheartened these terms without unloading them. The term has transformed, interpreted religious terms in a secular sense.It is also possible to reconcile this discourse with atheism in order to get rid of hell on a religious dimension or to say that there is no need for a hero or a savior to deserve paradise. The artist argues that a world free of all religious texts is the true happiness of the world. Heaven, hell and purgatory can reach this world, our heavenly form can be interpreted as the rejection of hell and the belief in the Hereafter. That is, after death, there is no other life, there is no other world, and god does not exist. From this point of view, a religious irony has been created by secularizing religious things.

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A feminist art history is one that focuses on women as artists, patrons, viewers, and/or subjects.A feminist study explicitly addresses the issue of  female gender- that is, the idea of femininity and/or the experience of being a woman – in one or more of these arenas. Feminist art history refers that  the interrogation of the female body as the object for the male gaze and as a vehicle for expressing and reinforcing patriarchal values. The concept of the gaze  looking at something consciently. We can say that there is a different saying from feminism and patriarchal society. Because they do not see women as sacred, or in a patriarchal context, women’s dependence on men. on the contrary, it tried to develop a different discourse from the other. She portrayed a multifaceted sexuality by abstracting the concepts of sex. emphasizing that there is no difference between the two by describing women as male sexual organ and men as female sexual organ. the artist has already shown that what is important is the feeling created by men and women, not gender differences. The cultural context has normalized and liberated different sexual approaches such as bisexuality, gay or lesbianism that would not be accepted in society. looking at all these things, that your sexuality, your relationship with nature and animals is a real paradise, and that escaping from the fears of suffering has saved man from his own hell. Thus the artist ignoring the perception of heaven and hell in Islam and in other religions and developing a unique alternative to religion.

To sum up, taking into account all of these; heHeaven establishes bonds between visible and invisible, real and fictional worlds. free bodies and human beings are depicted with rainbow colors, and people share animals and plants, a common paradise of moon and sun. non-discriminatory, non-hierarchical, equally free world of masculinity and femininity. Lastly, heaven is a very important work in terms of emphasizing that the real salvation of the world is ours and that we have our own ideas.



Anne D’Alleva, ‘’Methods and Theories of Art History’’Laurence King Publishing, 2005

Broude, Norma, and Mary Garrard. “Introduction: Feminism and Art History.” In Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany. New York: Harper & Row, 1982.

Lois Fichner Rathus, ‘’Understanding Art’’ 10th Edition, The College of New Cersey, Cengage Learning, 2012.


[1]Nazlı Gürlek in conversation with Canan Gürlek, https://vimeo.com/236547543Access: February 2, 2018

[2] ARTER, Behind Mount Qaf, http://www.arter.org.tr/W3/?iExhibitionId=69Access: February 2, 2018