Valeria Schulte-Fischedick on The Way It Really Was

For her three 1.5 x 2 m black and gold ink drawings, Evanthia Tsantila converts archived visual material with a fine brush into abstract forms that merely hint at her subjects: two men are seated at a table, and between them, set on the surface of the picture, is a circular depiction of Constantinople in gold based on a wood-cut from 1493. A tree, supported by steles stands in the centre of the second drawing, which is again in gold. An indefinable crowd of people is the subject of the third drawing, but omissions in the picture deprive the viewer of the essential scenes. The picture was inspired by a contemporary photo of a bloody uprising in Istanbul, in which a man is standing in the centre – his body in flames.
Tsantila uses the “colour” gold to freeze the narrative moment and create a distance from the documentary source material. In art, gold is a means of transformation, transporting the picture into a precious, often sacred, and at times also a kitsch state. At the same time Tsantila’s pictures emerge from the empty spaces, in which a new sense is created. In the space between the conceptual and the imaginary, between the researched and the personally experienced, an “imaginary Istanbul” emerges, which reflects with poetic virtuosity the enormous richness of the city’s history and relationship with pictures, while never losing sight of the political context.

Valeria Schulte-Fischedick
Berlin, July 2005

Published in the catalogue of the exhibition “Urban Realities – Focus Istanbul”
Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, 2005