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15.02.2024 - 06.04.2024

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Labirent Sanat is pleased to present Gülfem Kessler's works compiled under the title “Pathosformel” to the audience between 15 February – 6 April 2024.
Pathosformel is the concept coined by Aby Warburg to describe the repetition of emotions, facial expressions, body postures, hand movements and accessories, dating back to ancient times. Pathosformel is a kind of cultural subconscious. It is the recording of certain postures and gestures in the visual memory of humanity with a common historical consciousness. Warburg's focus was to carry the universal emotional patterns of humanity from the ancient extensions of the Renaissance to the present by depicting the movement of images through memory. Pictorial forms, which he calls pathos formulas, store the energy of body language, mark memories, leave traces, and through art, these emotions are embodied and transferred to the viewer.
Mnmosyne (Memory) Atlas offers two modes of interpretation while presenting the analogy of the structuring of Renaissance thought at the macro and microcosmic levels. First, the origins of scientific and rational knowledge can be found in mythology and its tradition of allegorical representation, and that collective memory can objectively recall the information of these traces. Secondly, the collective memory recalled through pathosformel must be reproduced through a subjective or singular cognitive process to form a meaningful whole.
According to C. Gustave Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, just as the human body carries traces of the ancient ancestors when examined through evolutionary processes, it is natural to see archaic imprints in the psyche of modern humans when examined within the context of analytical and evolutionary psychology; and perceiving the human soul today cannot be achieved solely by focusing on civilized people. Jung delved deeper into the subconscious and worked in the realm of collective consciousness shared by all humans with archaic origins. In the same approach, Aby Warburg developed the concept of pathosformel and introduced a new methodology to art history. Pathosformel can be explained by the emergence of shared memories from the unconscious, where artists express common narratives, images, and postures in their artworks. In the specificity of their individual positions in different fields of research, Jung and Warburg shared a similar goal: cultural memory. Thus, for Warburg the fibers of cultural memory are Pathosformal; and for Jung, they are archetypes derived from the collective unconscious. For both Warburg and Jung, the image is closely linked to a moment of crisis, and therefore, questioning the images that emerge from the depths to soothe one's pain is necessary.
Warburg's statement, “Humanity's treasure of human suffering is transformed into human's wealth" is a fundamental proposition that defines artwork as both a product and a tool for overcoming distress in collective memory.
The Pathosformel exhibition connects the images of the past to the present by detaching them from their time and place, allowing for the rebirth of images and bringing new meanings and possibilities to the present. The exhibition offers an opportunity to comprehend the relationship between humans and the chaotic external world through facial expressions and body movements and also invites us to explore the different surfaces, forms, and vibrations of matter by gathering them around common emotions that are embodied through images.
In the exhibition, Kessler's painting titled “Remembering the Past”, with her back turned to us, creates an “s” movement or curve with her right leg stepping forward, reminiscent of the scene of “Venus Rising from the Sea” with its long hair swirling like spirals mingling into the waves, evoking memories from the depths of the past. Of course, the figure standing before us is not Venus rising from the sea, but perhaps the entire spiritual legacy of humanity's evolution, reborn from the memory of the artist.
In almost all the works featured in the Pathosformel exhibition, the existence of emotional patterns regarding the existential unrest, social fears, excitements, enthusiasms, and anxieties of the individual encountering the world can be easily read through the body language and facial expressions of the figures.

Gülfem Kessler's paintings, which we have brought together within the concept of Pathosformel, can be seen at Labirent Sanat between 15 February – 6 April 2024.



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