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Schinkel Pavillon

Masist Gül

Curated by Banu Cennetoğlu and Philippine Hoegen


The exhibition presented artist books, paintings, and documents by and about Masist Gül.

Bodybuilder, poet, painter: these and other occupations describe Masist Gül (* 1947 in Istanbul, † 2003 in Istanbul), even if he remains best known (though the term is relative) as a Turkish actor of Armenian origin who played minor roles in over 300 obscure films in the course of his life. His passing has left behind a large number of collages, drawings, and poems, most still unknown today. The autodidact’s most ambitious work is Kaldırım Destanı—Kaldırımlar Kurdunun Hayatı (Pavement Myth—The Life of the Pavement’s Wolf), a six-part serial narration in the form of handmade comic books, produced in the 1980s but never published in Gül’s lifetime. Each of the six books begins with poem-like texts summarizing the madcap plots, each of which rehearses a similar story of human struggle between good and evil. The cycle, whose final volume remained unfinished, tells the story of Kaldırım Fahri (Pavement Fahri) in a sequence of flashbacks woven together into a retrospective narrative spanning from 1905 to 1978: from a childhood in the clutches of a wicked witch to her defeat and from Fahri’s rise from Bog-rat to Pavement Wolf, protector of the poor and outcast.

In 2006, Pavement Mythwas recovered from near obscurity by Banu Cennetoğlu’s artist-run space BAS and published in Istanbul in a facsimile edition of Cennetoğlu’s and Philippine Hoegen’s Bent series of artists’ books, making Gül’s books publicly accessible for the first time. After Istanbul and Brussels, this was the third occasion that Cennetoğlu and Hoegen also displayed Gül’s paintings, notebooks, and other objects from his estate. Points of contact intertwined and processes of identity construction were revealed as both the bodybuilder physique and protector personas of the Pavement Wolf and Gül blured between the pages of his carefully crafted books and other work.