“The return of Rosinante” (Rosinante’nin dönüşü) Şerif Kino titled his latest show. One of the strongest works shows the fall of the knight and his horse into a reddish, fantastic landscape, which appears clouded by animal figures. Disproportionate and shadowy, a bull and the hindquarters of a zebra peer out of the mist. A parrot and fish appear to be heading west, a rooster is bisected by the end of the canvas. The mishaps of horse and rider are completely ignored by the mythical animal figures. Their failure is either irrelevant or ubiquitous, like the ongoing destruction of nature by an Anthropocene turning itself into a black hole.
“I had bad timing,” stressed Şerif Kino during the opening of the exhibition on February 10. Due to the earthquake disaster that hit south-east Turkey and north Syria, it had already been postponed by a few days. Kiziltepe, where Kino lives, wasn’t too badly affected, but it is surrounded by the disaster area.
When I walk through the exhibition, I have a different opinion. Actually, the themes correspond perfectly with the present. A natural disaster occurs as the zero point of existence. While the trappings bobble in old dilemmas. Efforts and good intentions are corrupted by greed and corruption. Collapsing new buildings bury thousands of people under their own belongings, which are exposed in the cracking concrete.
Before setting out on his adventures, Don Quixote decides that as a knight-errant, he must choose and name a horse. He deliberates about the name for four days before settling on Rosinante for the old and rather sickly horse. Don Quixote picks a name that means “ranked before all other horses,” which shows Don Quixote believes this horse to be capable of great adventures.As much as Şerif Kino does.
Since 30 years the Şerif Kino analysis the metaphorical universe of the literature classic. His tenacity is almost like that of the hero he has chosen as his lifelong inspiration. He used sculpuring but mostly painting in different styles, mixing concrete and abstraction in an anachronism.In particular, his images in this exhibition move from figuration to dreamlike transitions of color and form, blurring into a very contemporary abstraction from reality to internalize the recurring theme of loss and failure of the image of the still never-giving-up hero.
The main figures are rarely looking alike. They often are contextualizable by the eye of the viewer. The motive of master and servant, horse and donkey are universal, the earthy tones transferable. I could also see parts of the scene of the unfortunate young people, who went to Iraq from the village of Roboski in 2011 to be shot by the Turkish military as supposed PKK military units. But thasts up to my interpretation.
Born in 1967 in Kiziltepe, Mardin, Şerif Kino started his art-Carreer in Istanbul after graduating from the Art Faculty at Marmara University. He attended as a young artist to a group show in the Press museum in Çemberlitaş. The second exhibition was opened in the Marmara Museum at Taksim sqare. I beleive to remember the clay figure of Don Qixote in the Marmara Hotel. But maybe I am mistaken. That was in 1994, two years after I had moved to Turkey to work for German television in the war-torn 90’s. If I had known then that the artist was from Mardin, it would have been very important to me. We were sent to Diyarbakır and Mardin, the cities were under emergency law. Turkish military was fighting PKK units. Locals “disappeared,” Hezbollah, a Kurdish Islamist movement, murdered people they saw as connected to the Kurdish political movement. Admired figures like the writer Musa Anter were assasinated. Counter-Terrorism was a strategy of the Deep State.
Don Quixot as a motive was very meaningful then and kept being for Şerif Kino. He moved back to Kızıltepe years ago when the Emergency Law was lifted under the rule of the Islamic Conservative movement. A peace process started and failed. The country is still longing for heroes that are ultimately sentenced to failure somehow. Not only in Turkey but globally it seems to me. As these lines are what I see in the return of the motives of these works.
“The Return of Rosinante” is the 21st solo exhibition of the painter Şerif Kino in his 30-year art career.
ZibaArt Gallery, 10. – 28.02.2023. Curated by Fehim Güler and Şerif Yaşar.