Nilhan Sesalan whose works are in numerous collections, parks and museums around the world can be regarded as the representative of lyrical abstraction. The artist who also contributes to life with her designs and writings says in a poem:

“I love my thoughts,

the process in which they make me believe…

when I am convinced they will not leave me

I transfer them to a material and I say ‘done’.

With that energy, I can hold my breath longer

and find power for life.”

The sculptor Nilhan Sesalan’s work 99 Squares is inspired by A Mind at Peace, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s novel. The artist created an abstract composition of highly elegant and fluid forms, which refers both to her former pieces, and to the pages in the fourth and fifth chapters of the book. In the piece called “Ferah Feza” [commodious, wide space], Sesalan uses crystallized stone of Afyon to portray a “clear and calm” sky in its all dynamism. In this artwork, while the immanent and the transcendent meet in the company of universal sense and rational knowledge, a feminine care treats the shadow and the texture as the artist elaborates the constellations in the sky with the kindness of a muralist, and with the patience and the fairness of a dervish. A sentence in the fourth and fifth chapter of A Mind at Peace, which Sesalan gets inspired, goes as follows: “The reed flute of Emin Bey-after playing the two yoruk terennums [pleasantly sung nomad songs] to end the ritual, as if it were drawing a sky map in its short and vivid journey, by playing a taksim [prologue] that has the hints of several maqams, from the ferahfazâ [a maqam in Ottoman music] of yoruks [nomads in Anatolia] to the great tune of the beginning- started to play a tune bringing the sense of nostalgia, and stopped there.” Sesalan emphasize that the adjectives Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar used in describing Dede Efendi’s “Ferahfeza Ayin-i Şerifi” [a musical composition in farahfazâ maqam], i.e. “satiated, voluminous, and wide”, were of great importance in leading the artist in this composition. 


Evrim Altuğ 

instagram: @nilhansesalan