BEFORE WE BEGIN: Enver has put together a playlist for your listening pleasure while you peruse this online show. You can >>>>> Go to Spotify NOW <<<<< or jump to the playlist at the bottom of the page by clicking the HYPNAGOGIA Playlist (Spotify) option in the ‘JUMP TO‘ sections throughout this page.
HYPNAGOGIA is mainly inspired by Enver Gürsev‘s diary of recurring dreams, many about or from his childhood. He’d recently found the journals again and decided to use them as inspiration for his Small House Gallery show.
Gürsev is perhaps best known for his paintings of the ‘ghost town’ Varosia (Varosha) in Famagusta, Cyprus, left empty, frozen in time behind barbed wire for 50 years, since its 70s luxury resort-town heyday in the borderland between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island, and for his paintings of London’s Battersea Power Station, which stood as a hulking, hollowed out modern urban ruin for almost as many years.
The Dark House (Small House Cottage)
Halloween is Enver’s birthday and this October, Gürsev has taken over Small House Cottage AND Small House Two with surreal representations and re-creations of scenes from his long-standing ‘Dreams Journal’ in some rooms, and installations of his ‘toy hoards’ in others. The show will morph as the month progresses with new interventions.
(All photos Eldi Dundee unless otherwise specified)
The Card Room
The Lounge (Carousel side)
The Wireless Room
A London Brit and a Cypriot, Gürsev has lived between worlds, seeing the strict divides of identity and category, based on nation, or worship, or skin colour, and finding it all rather perplexing and ridiculous. Greeks v. Turks, Christians v. Muslims, brown skin v. white skin – despite delving into the sociological histories that fuel and excuse these divisions to this day, he finds these artificial politically-motivated and manipulated polemical divides pointless, and there is a refusal in his artworks, in his personal manner and his lifestyle choices to entertain or be constrained by those external parameters.
He was mentored for 6 years by Sir Edoardo Paolozzi, whose obituary in the Guardian (2005) is worth reading as an aid in understanding Gürsev’s formative artistic influences.
One room shows a little boy standing at a stop by some railway tracks in a living room setting. A train that in dreams only seems to come barreling through when he’s elsewhere in the house and he endlessly runs between stops trying to catch one of the trains because it’s the only way out of the house. As in another dream, the Frankenstein monster guards a door in the hallway, trapping people inside the room. The devil is also a recurring figure in Gürsev’s older paintings, carvings, sculptures – a frightening dream figure in childhood, but an ally now that he’s faced his fears head-on, making friends with his demons, and embracing them as brothers. There is power in the reclamation of one’s shadows and taboos.
The Zodiac Room
The miniature installations in the rooms are of enigmatic autobiographical significance, but not all are about his own dreams or childhood. For instance, certain toys relate lovingly to his school-aged son (especially the ‘Mario’ PEZ dispenser). Others are tender associations to family history, lovers, travels, best mates, students even.
Many of the collections grew out of gifts he was given. He once had a skull in his studio that someone had given to him at some point, which he would sometimes add to his still-lives, purely for the purpose of demonstrating oil painting techniques to his classes. Instead of giving the teacher apples or whiskey as a thank you at the end of term, students began to give him skulls. The more skulls they’d see in his studio, the more they’d think he was a collector of skulls! If not for the gifts of skulls there would be no collection of skulls. He has accidentally become a collector of skulls through a misunderstanding that he’s never had the heart to correct. And he loves that it has become a ‘thing’, though it’s not the skulls he loves, but the kind sentiment his students have shown towards him that he loves.
The Religion Room
The Skull Room
And so every kitsch object, no matter how trivial it may seem to the outside eye, is imbued with an evocation of story, memory, person, place and time. Collecting (or non-pathological hoarding) as artistic sympathetic magic impulse, if you will. And when you’re an artist who uses assemblage of objets d’art in your work, everything has potential as art supply, yet Gürsev is selective of the objects that he ‘hoards’ to sometimes comment on hoarding, ironically. Thankfully, he doesn’t have the ‘true’ hoarder’s dilemma over chucking things or giving them away if they have no meaning for him or any use in his artwork, yet at the same time he acknowledges that as the child of immigrants, identity and meaning do get tied up in possessions and symbols associated with the old home, lost or left behind, and this likely prompted for his family and himself, a psychological need to bring as many reminders of the former life to the new country, especially given that they weren’t always made to feel warmly welcomed based on their nationality or ethnicity.
The Heroes & Villains Room
He is a collector of Kinder toys, vintage tourism dolls in their national costume, memorabilia & ephemera of Turkish and Cypriot social-historical significance, world religions, the occult, pagan magick, voodoo, their symbols and mythologies, and the historical and cultural underpinnings, often contested, of all of the above. He has been making irreverent, challenging and unapologetic assemblages using a mix of secular objects and religious / anti-religious iconography for a very long time in the name of artistic and religious freedom and play for a long time. It goes with out saying that Religion has a lot to answer for with regards the troubles of this world, and he is more than happy to take the piss out of it. If it offends anyone along the way, that’s up to them. He respects people and culture, but is not precious about people’s beliefs – sacred or secular – it’s all make-believe to him, and fair game for making fun of.
The Light House (Small House Two)
(All photos by Eldi Dundee unless otherwise specified)