İbrahim Resnelli associates his first solo exhibition, which he has titled as “Beyond the Armour”, with his individual philosophical world where his artist identity reigns, while taking certain concepts about artistic creation as his point of departure, and he requires from his viewers to interpret his works through an intellectual and spiritual journey.
Resnelli defines the elements that surround his drawings such as the frame and glass – and even the drawing itself – as an armour. He describes the departure of an artwork from the mind of an artist and its acquisition of form as wearing armour, and problematises this situation; he implies that what we have to do, as viewers, is to communicate with the artwork via our minds, souls, perceptions and emotions, and go beyond this physical “obstacle”, this shield of protection. However, by doing this the artist puts both his works and the viewers in the position of warriors. Because, he invites the drawings dressed in armour to protect and hide the meaning they embody and the viewers who struggle or would like to struggle to approach meaning to an intellectual and emotional combat. In this context, victory can be defined as approaching meaning, or ideally grasping the meaning. The artist cherishes the hope for this powerful moment of communication and blesses its possibility.
Resnelli explains that due to their nature his works embody a representation of alienation and distance beyond time, moreover this issue of distance does not only consist of the distance between us, but also it points at the distance from our selves. Nevertheless, with unceasing optimism the artist believes without doubt that it is possible to go beyong this armour, cover this distance by means of art and by questioning art with our perceptive view.
The artist, who is of the opinion that it is actually nothing more than a petty detail that the images in his works carry varying structures (visual structures such as hands, feet, portraits and objects are present together), emphasises that striving to reach meaning, soul, in other words beyond the armour, is the main thing he is after. He positions himself beyond and against the act of simply photocopying what is visible in a realistic manner. The focus of the artist is on the forms of existence and his sole aim is to render the soul / meaning that exists behind the armour visible.
Although Resnelli is aware of the hyperrealistic virtuosity of his drawings that strikes the viewers at first sight, he underlines the fact that the conceptual subtexts of his works carry the main significance, and he defines this approach as “conceptual realism”. Because what he aspires to do is not to transfer the visible reality itself via drawing, but rather, to create “existence-oriented works [that allow conceptual thinking and thus] transcending the stark reality and also the armour, which aim at reaching the soul / meaning that exists behind the starkness and the armour, and rendering this soul / meaning visible”. The artistic approach he has adopted enables him to examine deeply such dualities as soul-body, void-matter and physics-metaphysics. The artist, who endeavours to reveal the invisible via that which is visible, explains the armour as the world of appearances that has to be transcended. He states that all things that drift in time towards its end demand a gaze beyond the physical presence, and in his drawings it is perceived that he is after grasping and narrating that which is beyond existence and matter.
When we approach Resnelli’s works in his exhibition “Beyond the Armour” while keeping these thoughts in mind, we witness that the artist has directed his gaze and his pencil to that which is nearest to him, his own body, and through self-portraits struggling with arduous inner interrogations, like the triptych “Decaying Motivation”, and corporeal observations, his effort to trancend the body, to discover, identify and comprehend that which cannot be seen with the eye. In his drawings, external observations transform into internal observations owing to the participation of the viewer into the process of interpretation.
In the central image of his triptych titled “Weight and Lightness”, tense but static dynamism is observed in the tiptoed feet that are about to take action. Although we do not have any idea about the figure’s intention, we are to construct the story. On the right and left sides of the triptych we see feet in the air. Is the figure escaping from some things in horror or dissatisfaction, or is he jumping over an obstacle that we cannot see? Perhaps the person in front of us is the figure of a saint ascending to the heavens? As a conscious decision, it is left to the viewer to fictionalise about the before and after of the moment.
In the diptych “What we look at and what we see”, the hand which lies gracefully on the duvet may hurl us swiftly into the past and take us to the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, to the moment when the first man was created and received a soul. The drawing on the right-hand side of the diptych is a reflection of the same image with lesser details, here we witness the flirtation of drawing and illustration. Moreover, as it is stated in the title of the work, Resnelli creates us an environment where we can ask ourselves such questions as: How well do we actually see what we look at, what things do we grasp, and what do we miss?
The titles Resnelli gives to his works show that his language awareness is high, that he trusts linguistic expression, and also they are clues which he presents us so that we may solve his own language of creation. In some of his works such as “Crash”, texts written by him accompany the drawings; uniting with the images they pull us toward strings of deep emotions and thoughts.
Another prominent aspect of the artist’s works is empty spaces. His drawings are nurtured by the pure power, infinity and fertility of the empty spaces that the white areas create. Resnelli says that owing to these untouched white areas, he does not kill the lines he has made on paper, and that he leaves them room for existence. We see that his drawings need these empty spaces in order to breathe. At the same time, we may also observe in some of his works that the emptiness acquires its own character. For example, if we return to his triptych “Decaying Motivation”, examining the drawings from the left to the right, we see that emptiness gradually dominates the work. While the emptiness slowly wraps the body as if swallowing it, we witness its dragging the figure into a deep slumber or absence, nothingness, perhaps death. If, however, instead of this approach we read this triptych from the other end, with a contrary interpretation, we observe such situations as the transition from nothingness into being / body or awakening from a deep sleep, facing with life and existence. The work sets into motion the dualities of presence-absence, sleep-awakening, birth-death and beginning-end in a never-ending loop.
In his exhibition “Beyond the Armour”, İbrahim Resnelli concretises his individual interrogations sometimes by drawing realistic images on paper which aspire to reach some kind of truth beyond the visible reality, as well as adding texts written by him which scrutinise life and emotions, and at other times, by leaving fruitful empty spaces. While inviting viewers to an intellectual and emotional combat to overcome the formal elements, which he define as armour, the artist promises that victory carries a precious moment of communication.