We are well aware that initially objects, then sensations, and finally “the substance of things,” which is said to be attained by bracketing the World, come to the fore during the artistic reconstruction of the World. One can thus and with good reason claim that modernism saw the light of the day thanks to this very act of “bracketing.” Jose Ortega y Gasset related this act to Husserlian phenomenology and the expressionist tradition to “the substance of things” (just like Giotto was related to Aristotle, and impressionists to Mach and Avenarius!)… However, it seems more tenable to assert that the act of “bracketing” “the substance of things,” all that is somehow associated with the World in its literal sense, emerged with Kandinsky, and not with expressionists. Furthermore, regardless of the extent to which the “given” Nature was distorted by surrealists and futurists and the extent to which it was shown to be radically different from what it is in reality, it was not completely “bracketed” and thus left out. So it goes without saying that the inventor of modern abstract painting, which bears no trace of the “given” Nature, is Kandinsky.
Therefore we can ascertain that modernism is a question of Form. Insofar as modernism is concerned, “the substance of things” is reduced to Form. Kandinsky blazed a trail in painting, the way Mallarmé blazed a trail in poetry.
If Mithat Şen’s works connect him to a certain Modernism that orients him towards Form, they can also be said to connect him to the tradition of ornamentation in Anatolian Seljuk art. Anatolian Selçuk art, which boasts exquisite geometric patterns, and predominantly circles, constructs a regime of meaning through complex compositions based on the simple form of circles. As Semra Ögel noted in her book entitled Anadolu Selçuklu Sanatı Üzerine Görüşler (Views on Anatolian Seljuk Art), geometric compositions are “the main means of expression of all Islamic art.” Each geometric pattern and each composition that is made up of such patterns takes its place within this regime of meaning.
Apparently Mithat Şen does not intend to repeat or reconstruct the regime of meaning pertaining to the Islamic tradition of ornamentation with the forms that he creates. I must admit that I have my doubts about this issue, notably as to whether Mithat Şen creates his own metaphors in the plastic space that he constructs using forms that have absolutely nothing to do with geometric patterns… To identify the regime of meaning that Mithat Şen constructs using his shapes as metaphors does not seem to be an easy task. But even so, in my view, one should read Mithat Şen’s forms just as Forms, without ascribing to them a (metaphorical) meaning that can be formulated through Language, just like one reads Kandinsky’s forms just as Forms, without ascribing to them a (metaphorical) meaning with regard to the World. Kandinsky’s artistic concern is the World, and if you ask me, Mithat Şen’s artistic concern is Meaning.
Mithat Şen refrains rather diligently from establishing connections between the pieces. Yet there is actually one exception to this rule, this exception being the symmetrical layout of the shapes in one of his works, whose geometricality imposes on the viewer the burden to piece the work together. The only anomalous work in the entire exhibition is thus this symmetrical work…
I believe that the transformation of “writing” into “fragmentary writing” accounts for this certain characteristic that marks Mithat Şen’s works. The notion of “fragmentary writing” (“écriture fragmentaire”) was coined by Maurice Blanchot. Blanchot claimed that the texts that Nietzsche published in his lifetime were written in an unsystematic manner in the form of aphorisms that apparently contradicted with one another. Erest Behler, on the other hand, defines “fragmentary writing” above all as “the rejection of a system, a passion for the incomplete, the pursuit of unfinished movements of thought.”
Mithat Şen turns “fragmentary writing” into “fragmentary images,” creating compositions that are not systematic by nature, that reject any form of unity, and that produce unfinished movements of the image.
This is what I meant to say when I claimed that his artistic concern is Meaning…