Paintings of Melike Kara: Ambiguous Identity

Melike Kara’s paintings carry an ominous and haunting feel, as if the sketchy figures are watching you and examining your every move. Her figures do not seem to belong anywhere; on these canvases where they are intended to exist, or on the streets as real individuals. The bodies interlock and intertwine, creating clusters of body parts of figures and not of individual figures themselves. They belong as an individual and as a group all at the same time.

Identity is ambiguous in Kara’s subjects. The figures do not seem to choose an identity and instead relate to anonymity more than anything. These figures, like Kara upon painting these works, ask questions, “Where does my own identity begin? How much am I referring to my background? How much influence does my background have on me? Where do I belong?”

The answers to these questions are not black and white. Identity is not as restricted as it appears. It shifts with the environment you are in and the people you surround yourself with, and it alters as your life changes. We all face times when our identity is not black and white, but gray until we understand how outside factors influence us. 

The figure in Kara’s paintings “are visual representations of non-verbal but very common social interactions. We all feel each other’s non-verbal communication during every communication we have, or within every social structure we enter. The figures mostly reflect this kind of social struggle. At first sight they don’t have any reference to gender, age or culture, but if you have a look at [her paintings as a whole], maybe they belong somewhere…”

Because of the ambiguity of character and identity of her figures, the central focus of her paintings, her work leaves room for interpretation. “It’s not about deciphering the what, where and why, but rather it’s about the work asking questions and opening the possibilities.” The work allows you to add your own character into the work; belonging equally everywhere.

The figures do not have fixed gender, ethnicity, or social status, but “what they do have is a body, a heart: they feel love, joy, fear, anger.” They are people. They belong somewhere and everywhere.

All artwork copyright the artist. Learn more about Melike Kara.

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