Coskun Demirok is a minimalist and, in his practice, strives to reduce his compositions as far as possible. This series of photographic images is no different; characteristically they are simplified to a few basic pictorial elements …often just a few lines and surfaces.  

When Demirok paints, he applies oil-paint, often lusciously, with a flat wooden stick to the canvas, thereby not only reducing the pictorial elements to a minimum but also negating the individual ‚handwriting‘ of a brush mark. In some series, he uses black and white as a further limitation on the image.

Now, in his most recent work, he turns to a fundamentally different medium, namely, photography. Here again he is interested in line; structures appear that are familiar to those who know his paintings. And yet these photographs possess a surprising autonomy that transcends painting. The main actor is shadow which Demirok pursues within his compositional ethos; shadows drawn by light on the surfaces of nearby objects. Fascinated by the fleeting, ever changing image, he captures it in his prints.  The shadows and reflections appear even when the object has vanished or its materiality dissolved. The reduced colour and the nuances within the ranges of greys ensure a teasing, though restrained, play between light and dark, and between the effects of light – as shadow or reflection - and the solid surface.

The eye strives to decipher the object, though in fact, this is not necessary to the reading of the image. The forms stand alone, and are compelling, individually and in their interplay. Although there are also works in which shadow seems more concrete, some photographs were created via ‚double reflection‘, where what we see in the print is actually the shadow’s reflection. The level of abstraction reaches its pinnacle here, the original object increasingly dissolving into the immaterial, into line which describes the simplest, and often, the vaguest of forms. This treatment suggests the opening of a fourth dimension to the photographed objects. 

Demirok does not title his pictures. As always, he avoids illustration or narrative, and yet we recognize the context as being some kind of museum or gallery. While we can discern in these strictly composed photographs the objects of daily life – windows, frames, grids, drapes – Demirok's attention is always on the shadows and the play of light rather than the actual pictures and sculptures themselves. Although the subject may be some famous piece of art, in his images it becomes commonplace, simply a vehicle of light and shadow.

The artificial light in a museum does not change as natural light would, the shadow – although usually ignored – becomes part of each artwork. The light draws blurred contours of the sculptures on the wall, translates baroque frames into black surfaces and transforms installations into new images.

Here Demirok's interest in the relationships between forms becomes apparent, as in, for instance, his reading as one the shadow of a pedestal and the piece of art displayed on it. The sculptor in this artist is awakened at the same time as the photographer. The Architect’s instinct for space and volume is apparent in these works as it is in his paintings. It is evident in the tension between form and space, on the one hand, and cast shadows, a tension which Demirok, as a master of three-dimensions, allows to fully unfold. The objects he evokes in his photographs become his structural shadow-casters. The shapes which he photographs in fragments and then dissolves can perhaps be read as sculptures in space. 

His special interest in the line is once again visible. The sheets of paper, which, when crumpled, acquire solidity and a particular tectonic quality, appear unusually amorphous in this series of photographs. Whether blank white paper or taken from a newspaper, the images reveal the particular structural quality of paper relative to the shadows it casts. Here also the transitions between object and shadow appear softer, admitting a more poetic aspect of Demirok’s vision, one that is largely mute in his more severe works.

Translated and edited from notes by Christine Vogt on the exhibition, Shadowings, by Coskun Demirok.