For centuries, the Indian subcontinent has been synonymous with colour. With coloured cities such as Jaipur (pink) and Jodphur (blue), Holi, the 'festival of colour' and the site of sophisticated dye and pigment production, India is a nation for which colour is seen as an inextricable part of the national psyche. Through her jewel-toned images, Güler Ates captures this intrinsic element of India.
The material basis of colour, as well as textiles made using such dyes and pigments, were central commodities to trade between India and Europe. That these vibrantly coloured silks and cottons were then sold to female consumers only functioned to further define 'the East' as feminine. But while these were novelty items in Europe, Güler Ates re-contextualises these by situating them back within the Indian interior. Unlike previous work, in which the figure's relationship to the setting is ambiguous, in these works the figure blends so well that it almost disappears back into it, as if a return to the 'real', authentic environment only works to create a mirage. Leaving what the image appears to represent to the viewer.
Just as the situation of non-Western women is more conspicuous in Europe, Ates' images work to question the extent to which this cause is considered domestically, away from the prying eyes of the media. As with previous work, the figure in Ates' work is ambiguous, denying us the power to label and judge, subverting the Orientalist trope of the harem scene in which women are depicted as decorative features of the interior. Rather, it is the privacy of the Zenana, the Hindi term for the inner aparments of a house in India and Pakistan in which the women of the family live, that Ates captures in her work.
Güler Ates (1977) was born in Mus (Eastern Turkey) and graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA Fine Art in Printmaking in 2008. Currently, Ates is Digital Print Tutor at the Royal Academy Schools. She has exhibited work in Britain, Turkey, India, Japan, France, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her work is collected internationally and her artworks are included in numerous public collections, including the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Academy, London.
*This project was generously supported by Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation Udaipur.
Text by curator Josephine Rout
Location: Chopinstraat 31, Amsterdam
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