In 1966 Ahmet Güneştekin, who is of Kurdish ethnicity, was born in Batman, a city in Turkey, located in what in antiquity was called Mesopotamia. In Güneştekin’s younger years, various communities populated this area. Besides Islam, there were also adherents of Yazidism, a tolerant religion uniting several different religious viewpoints.
In 1991 Ahmet Güneştekin settled in Istanbul in search of his artistic identity. It was a long road to find his own style; for two decades he travelled with his sketchbook and camera through the 81 provinces, 700 districts and 4000 cities and villages that make up his homeland Mesopotamia. He listened to folktales, myths and legends, explored the local culture and studied religions and visual representations in a wealth of civilizations.
From this cultural and historical reflection, Güneştekin derived a pictorial language that shows a fusion of the different elements he encountered on his journey. In this pictorial language, he is evolving towards a narrative abstraction, an interplay of abstraction and figuration, visible both in his two-dimensional and his three-dimensional work, but most of all in his spatial installations. The warm colour schemes and tight weave of the carpet art in Anatolian mosques, the geometric patterns in copper art, the cloisonnism – the black lining of areas of colour – in the leaded windows of churches, they are all abstract pictorial elements characteristic of Güneştekin’s art. But so are the motifs from the religious and mythological stories and legends, such as the sun disc and the peacock feathers of the Yazedi angel. These can easily be traced back to the ancient stories from one of mankind’s oldest cultures: the culture of the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This area’s culture is 6000 years old, says Güneştekin, and it is my intention to bring it into the 21st century.
He found his own pictorial language and his own style in 2000, which he presented in 2003 in an overwhelming exhibition at the Atatürk Culture Center in İstanbul. Since then he has conquered the world with his work, with which he manages both to surprise artistically and to achieve a socio-political reality. He is now ranked among the great names in modern art history and is represented at the prestigious American Marlborough Gallery.