The one who teaches us /The deep silence of life on earth/Is the rose blooming on rose tree.
Lorca, ‘Silver Poplars’

After painting the beauties of pure love and the world of the traveler who is reborn from himself for her thesis on ‘Road and Voyage’, Nil Köken has left deep impressions on viewers with her first solo exhibition ‘Portraits from Life’. She transformed introverted visions, feelings, longings molded by a powerful intuition in to symbols with the portraits of people she knew well. She unified the charm of a pure and clean world, faraway from complicated relationships with the people she love. She signified deep layers of life together with the ‘present moment’ on these faces. She captured the energy and the beauty emanating from the gaze of the portraits painted very quickly with passion and love. She inspired feeling of swimming at deep waters despite our vulnerable nature by a paper ship, a symbol of innocence, floating on water joyfully.

Under the concept of dreaming she continued her theoretical studies on the pessimistic and alienated atmosphere of contemporary men who search for a ‘lost paradise’ with self-made gardens. With ‘Gardens of Silence’ these knowledge opened up to a garden of dreams. In these paintings Nil has painted the nature ‘not as an adversary to fight with and conquer but rather as a close friend giving news from the unknown, sometimes a compassionate mother and sometimes a universe of symbols’. With these paintings she invited men who are estranged from nature to meet what is beautiful in life. She dreamed both man kind and the nature as fine braiding of light and so she created.
In her new exhibition named as ‘Watchful Earth’ she focuses on the children of earth who watches and takes care of life with a motherly compassion. From seed to flower, leaf to branch, she is searching for the alluring beauty and the wholesome harmony of nature in all the creatures walking on earth as its silent witnesses. She opens a door to the watchful world of fragile and mysterious creatures living on the solid and heavy structure of terrestrial globe.

Earth is the only celestial body which hosts very rich life forms on her solid structure mostly composed of rocks and diminishing rapidly with her beauty. In this exhibition Nil’s colorful garden filled with small flowers grows to be an earth. With observing and caring creatures ‘it’ is a huge mother lap. Nil takes earth as a sacred mother, a major power inspiring virtues like compassion, kindness, grace, beauty and goodness. According to her ‘love’ is ‘a real attention and understanding’ and also a huge network behind the balance of earth and the laws of nature. ‘On these surfaces each plant, each creature is the growing, blossoming, life finding children of mother earth, sustained by her merciful support’ says Nil. At the same time they keep on living as an intra-connected spiral as each creature’s observing, caring eyes are supporting, sustaining and controlling each other with awareness.
The artist who believes that human kind should recognize his own qualities by seeing himself in nature once more also thinks that by this way his subtle sensitivity, beauty, virtues and higher qualities which he hasn’t recognized before would also spring out to his own awareness. So that he might find a taste of his own soul’s majesty while looking at mountains and might re-encounter his own innocence while observing the sweet, soft cuteness of a creature. So that he might reclaim and preserve both his inner and outer nature and grasp his unity with all beings by a more direct and spontaneous way than words and thoughts. By doing so he might wake up from the bitter dream of separateness and taste the freedom and joy of serving for the goodness of the whole just like the sun.

With her own words she states that ‘she wants to know her own determination in a squirrel climbing to the peaks of a tree under the rain and watch her own image in the perfect colors and silent gaze of a fox who just paused on the still and beautiful earth, recognize the depths of her inner world with the forest sleeping with mist and staying awake with its owls and chirping wrens and to dream about the infinite potential of being a human. For this reason Nil dedicated this exhibition to all the children of earth.

The forms applied by powerful and bright colors seem to carry the joy and happiness of a new day. We observe that the images of earth are painted as if she is hearing the movement of the day and the sounds of creatures from one canvas to another with a luminous touch. We look at the creatures with much respect, while they are walking under the glaring effect of sun light emanating from sky, filtered by trees, descending on earth. At a mysterious place covered by flowers we come face to face with one of the oldest children of earth, a gallant hedgehog who is hidden under his own quills. We enter into a new fairytale world. This fairytale creature who wanders in the peaceful luminous space she leaves behind, fascinates us like a beautiful and strong looking princess. Our eyes wander away with a branch which has just fallen on to the space where the hedgehog is timidly approaching. And we enter into Nil’s world who senses each flower’s, leaf’s, branch’s and all silent creatures’ harmonious vitality and the awaking force of this silent testimony. We focus on the color and vital energy of flowers which tell many things with their scents just like in the ‘Gardens of Silence’ Exhibition. We wander around at the internal silence of the artist which makes many flowers bloom in the hearts of the viewers.

In her imagery which combines ‘Mother Mary and Little Red Riding Hood’ together, wolves are symbols for the state of standing still at the feet of innocence. Nil depicts this kind and fragile innocence not as a prey but as a hunter hunting nonviolently at the inner face of reality. At a blue, holy night hunter and prey resembles the whole existing peacefully as one. These two are painted while they were listening to the night and the inner call of miraculous love.

In another panting Nil brings the tiger and gazelle together at a person’s inner world. The artist says that one must listen to his own gazelle that is the symbol for the voice of sensitive, fragile innocence and feelings. One can mature up while protecting the gazelle from his own tiger which is symbol for his own anger, power and mind and a necessary force for this journey. Artist thinks that one can achieve bringing their own universe to a balance and peace by embracing both his/her own fragility and his/her wild qualities together so that each quality would be tamed by giving it the necessary attention filled with respect.

At Nil’s fairytale gardens a safe atmosphere and a spatial freedom are felt. These paintings present ways of awakening from the ‘meaninglessness nightmare’ of contemporary man moving away and alienating from nature each day very fast. While we make an emotional connection with these gardens, flowers and the children of earth, we accept the nature as it is. Walking among the paintings of ‘Watchful Earth’ we stay alone with a spiritual beauty. We enter into a luminous dream world with fresh paints and dynamic outlooks.

Nil is bringing a new unique interpretation to landscape painting with her sharp observations and her approach that transforms the naturel in to the unforgettable and the impressible. Different from the other artists of her time, she paints and makes us feel that the nature, earth, tree, water and all creatures of earth is a whole. She opens our hearts to the scents, sounds and colors of the beings surrounding earth. She leaves us alone with her paintings which make us dive in to the hearts of the ones who talk to and interact each other and lead us ‘always towards the light’ in the silence of consciousness.

Canan Atalay

Nil Köken

Hacettepe Üniversitesi
Güzel Sanatlar Fakültesi
Beytepe 06800 Ankara

Tel    : 0312 297 68 40-41
Faks : 0312 299 20 61