Melike Kara - Modern & Contemporary Art: Online Auction, New York New York Monday, June 17, 2024 | Phillips
  • Spanning across sculpture, photography, poetry and painting, the art of Melike Kara centers around her Kurdish heritage. Kindled by a close bond with her grandmother, Kara explored her Kurdish roots, cultivating a personal archive of family photos and found images that the artist considers "something inherent and present in all [her] work, something that is alive and ever-changing."i Incorporating the Kurds' history of struggle for autonomy and cultural rights into her art, Kara navigates themes of community, diaspora, displacement and marginalization. 


    Kurdish textile arts remain a constant catalyst for Kara’s art. Inspired by the "ambiguity between abstraction and figuration" inherent to the motifs of Kurdish rugs and tapestries, the artist employs layered compositions in which the delineations between elements are blurred.ii To be titled, 2016, is a prominent manifestation of her embrace of this formal oscillation. Blue forms of varying hues are meticulously assembled upon a white background, with the stark contrast between subject and backdrop funneling the entirety of attention to the intricacies of Kara's constructions.


    Human faces, hands and the sky blue silhouette of a dog are interwoven into a kaleidoscopic array of stylized forms with varying opacities, leaving only fragments of the individual elements salient. As one attempts to trace these fragments back to their entirety, the interconnectedness between forms becomes apparent, conveying a palpable sense of community and kinship. For Kara, creating paintings inspired by textile arts offers an opportunity to explore new avenues of cultural representation that celebrate Kurdish heritage. She presents her work as an unflinching defiance of the depictions of the Kurdish struggle in the global mainstream media that center on loss and death, saying her paintings "go back to [her] decision to create something new from the present moment–not to give more space to pain and oppression, but to turn towards brightness."iii Within her deeply personal oeuvre, Melike Kara refracts imagery of her people's struggle through a fiercely optimistic and commemorative lens as a way to "give face to the Kurdish people, away from dominant narratives."iv


    Born in Bensberg, Germany in 1985, Kara studied under Rosemarie Trockel at the Dusseldorf Art Academy from 2007–2014. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Zurich, the Philara Collection, Dusseldorf and the Yuz Museum, Shanghai. Her work is held in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


    i Melike Kara, quoted in Sofia Hallström, "In the Studio with Melike Kara," emergent magazine, online.

    ii Ibid.

    iii Melike Kara, quoted in Sohrab Mohebbi, "Being without Ego: Melike Kara," Mousse Magazine, March 14, 2023, online

    iv Ibid.


    • Provenance

      Peres Projects, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2016


To be titled

signed and dated "Melike Kara '16" on the reverse
acrylic, oilstick and graphite on canvas
78 3/4 x 70 3/4 in. (200 x 179.7 cm)
Executed in 2016.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for $16,510

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Modern & Contemporary Art: Online Auction, New York

17 - 26 June 2024