Sıraselviler caddesi. No:83/2
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The Wizard Is Coming Home


4 NOVEMBER 2022 - 17 DECEMBER 2022

Pilot Gallery is happy to announce Emir Erkaya’s first solo show at its exhibition space titled “The Wizard is Coming Home” between November 4 - December 17. The recent bodies of works which have been developing through Erkaya’s distinct style psychoanalyze the culture he lives in, Erkaya addresses the individual, sexuality, history, and civilization in his paintings, which he narrates in a dramatic way.

His paintings typically feature characters who are compelled to be the other, such as homosexuals, the elderly, dwarfs, and homeless people. When the works in the exhibition are combined, a language that is occasionally strange and sometimes occult and enigmatic appears.

The language is esoteric in its nature since its subjects either take part in a “closeted”, or “inner” tradition of life or simply in a state of “rejected knowledge” by societal institutions. The outsiders, the ones left behind, and on the world they created; the paintings produce windows where the audience, outside of this tradition, can peek through liminal space and time the subjects occupy into this alien new world.

Mysteria (2021) is illuminated by the light, in medias res of a passage of sun-rite in the middle of the day. Masked individuals, along with the unmasked, are bared under this light; in the middle of a frenzied, ritualistic scene. The mob follows the women as they lead the way. The undisclosed nature of the knowledge contrasts with what’s happening under the daylight, where the subjects are presented with their whole might, exposed and taking the light in them, hints that there are still some things which eyes cannot see. 

The Wizard is Coming Home (2019) and Burn the Witch (2019), where a fire is the central lumination point of paintings, depict two occasions of occults treated differently. Where the witch is burning at stake, ignited by the flames below, the magician is coming back home to a candle-light scenery. The nude and the clothed interchanges roles within the two, while the women await the men’s next move. 

In Red Ribbon (2022), the red ribbon in the centre is released from its knot and floats through the tight area between the oppressed and the strong, just as it does when it is a sign of virginity. The red ribbon pattern, which can represent AIDS awareness or be used to decorate gifts, settles into a hazy, lively, and energetic area of the painting. To the extent that it is personal, this domain is political. The marginal characters, or those who are pushed to the sides that became the Other, are depicted with the pride of the noble and respected segment that adorns the tapestries of European palaces and which has gained political prestige by becoming giants in historical and mythological paintings. 

The centres of Black Tent (2020), the Red Tent (2020) are dominated by the tent motif; the tent disguises the inner elements or the knowledge of what is happening inside. On the outside, adorations filled with social and political inclinations may hint at the real meaning of all; but they are left to be deciphered. While the black tent attracts the elderly and the dwarf to its domain, one holding white carnations, symbolising remembrance, the red one appeals to masked, crowned but unclothed individuals, who proudly show off the affluent red tent. 

The Fool and Purple Tent (2022), on the other hand, reveals the inner workings of a purple-coloured tent. The colour purple has a long history with monarchs, as well as the court’s fools. But history shows that fool is not always acting their part, as most of the time they stay the most clever man on the court, and the only ones to talk about the truth without reprimands in front of the monarch. 

Erkaya’s Portrait series depicts people from all walks of life, but mainly the individuals from Istanbul’s bohemian and queer circles. The series works as an input of personal history, as well as the record of those marginated from the mainstream narratives, forced to become the Other. 

Emir Erkaya’s first solo show titled “The Wizard is Coming Home” will be on view at Pilot Gallery until December 17. 


Black Tent, 2020, Oil on canvas, 200 x 150 cm