Through the lens of an odd sentinel

Written by Shahnur Shahzad | Visual Artist, Educator

On the artistic experiences of  Erhan Us

A conceptual artist, who resides in Ankara, Turkey, Erhan Us, has been awarded 25+ local and international awards. He is also an author of the book name Digital Prestige, which was published in 2018.

His work is a modern blend of critically looking at the society’s system and social problems while reflecting his evaluative take on society and cultural boundaries. He believes that art serves a bigger purpose than just an aesthetic piece of a luxury item. It holds the power to provoke people to think critically and educate people about different social aspects. Each of his works is a statement on its own. His art pieces raise questions about sociology, religion, dogma, self-confrontation, success, status quo, and women’s rights. He composes and assembles objects to manipulate reality and derive a narrative.

He usually explores a vast variety of material through his practice. Using an ordinary object in a way that intrigues the viewer to think and question their own surroundings and realities. Norms and traditions that are so deeply embedded in our daily life, we often overlook the problems that are being raised because of it. Business cards are something that we often come in contact with; Erhan uses them as a material to incorporate in his work to create a statement by covering the model of the female figure, aluminium ladder, and metallic case to shape their existing reality to criticize society. To raise issues that are faced in the business markets such as commoditization and sexism women face every day, greed and power it offers along with misidentification, enslavement, and its inevitable outcomes. As he talks about the death of vision, creativity, and uniqueness as people lose themselves in the hustle of mundane routine. His work “Collarization” is a belt attached with a tie while a corporate dress code is written all over it. He talks about societies, religion, and cultural enforcements on identity and norms while addressing the hypocritical contents that are imposed on every individual in one way or the other. Filtered identities on social media and how it influences our realities are some issues that he explores through his work by carefully selecting specific objects and manipulating them in a way that it creates a thought-provoking statement.

Erhan’s latest work is in response to the current pandemic. Dealing with the concept of touch and how its meaning has changed since the virus has started to spread. A simple act of touching another person leads to mass death, panic, and outbreak. The artwork is made of acrylic on latex. Another work which is a mask that is made of metal, fibre, and plastic, talks about its ignorance and importance before and during the pandemic. He also responds to the current issues by creating an art piece that is a toilet roll made of metal and plastic. This specific work has two editions, one in response to the current pandemic and another in response to the banana issue at Art Basel 2019.

Erhan Us continuously creates such work that deals with humanity and its norms, abuse of power, social status, women empowerment, religion, manmade Gods, and manipulation of societies. He also has multiple series of digital work mostly talking about identities, humans creating their own Gods and being domed by them, borders, and the lost identity of women in society. Erhan Us has displayed his work around the world through many groups and solo shows in several galleries, museums, and art festivals.

December 01, 2020

KIMLIK, plastic, Erhan Us, All copyrights are retained by the artist, 2020