HOOSICK FALLS, NY – “Horses represent freedom to me,” says Turkish-born artist Yucel Erdogan.
Erdogan’s images are full of freedom and grace. They carry with them a sense of deep thought and loneliness, powerful and resonant, through darkness and chaos. They represent something more than just horses. They speak of endurance and collective will, especially now after two years of pandemic and division. The uniform leadership of the horses creates a determination and a will to move forward, together, all of us.
“I hope that with freedom and strength we can get up,” he said.
Erdogan owns 3rd Eye Gallery, an open space with the kind of natural light reminiscent of an upscale gallery in Soho, the kind of light that bounces off the high ceiling and gently falls on the dozens of canvases lining the old plaster, the kind walls that artists love. The gallery is right next to BYTE, an authentic wood-fired pizza place that has become a favorite in Hoosick Falls and beyond.
There will be an opening reception of Erdogan’s latest work, “Horses”, at 6pm Saturday at the 3rd Eye Gallery, 6 John St., Hoosick Falls. “Horses” will run until December 20.
Erdogan grew up in Turkey and immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1988. He attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he earned a master’s degree in design. After graduation he became a commercial artist in the advertising business in New York City, but was restless.
“I got lost one day while driving, the day before my Empty anniversary, and I found myself here in this beautiful city, in front of this wonderful old building on John Street. “
As he picked up his camera to take pictures of the city, he noticed a “For Sale” sign in the window of the very building he had parked in front of. “I called the real estate agent right away. An hour later, she showed me the 16,000 square foot building. Two years later, I owned the place.
There was no pizza plan, at least not at the time.
“It became a necessity afterwards as I renovated the building. There were no great places to eat, none of the kind of food I wanted to have. I ate mainly at Stewart’s and Cumberland Farms, food from the gas stations in the neighborhood. It became clear pretty quickly that this town needed good food, real pizza. When asked if making pizza was a passion of his, Erdogan responded with a smile: “Not to make it, but to eat it.” The smile turns into a belly-full laugh.
Erdogan set up the gallery right next to BYTE. He was spending more and more time in both the restaurant and the gallery, spending many nights upstairs in one of the lofts he had created during the renovation. Eventually, as the pandemic worsened, he moved his family from Brooklyn.
“The pandemic has forced us to make a choice,” he says. “Either way, it was going in that direction. It was not easy to be in both places. I have three children.
Erdogan has created art all his life. His art is diverse, from loose brush paintings of eerie faces to more accessible subjects like flying birds in drops of yellow and white paint. “Like birds, horses represent a symbol of freedom, power and strength. The difference is that the horses are grounded. They can’t fly, ”he laughs.
Asked about his latest job, Erdogan becomes more serious. “In recent years, with the pandemic we are going through, I wanted to get out of the situation by going through it. Horses have this strength. All the horses that I have painted run in the same direction, at exactly the same time of their race. They are in a full stretch. There is no doubt, no turning back. They have a destination, and they want to get there, no matter what the obstacles, stormy, sunny, whatever happens.
When asked why this moving horses message is so important to him, Erdogan looks down for a second, then straight ahead with piercing blue eyes. “We don’t have a lot of time,” he says. “It’s not just COVID. It is also global warming. It’s a lot of things we take for granted. This is what is happening all over the world. We’re running out of time. “
What about hope? “My hope is that we all have the same goal. I wish that the doubt was there, that we all believe in science, that we face it together. My hope is that we can do the same together. We can move forward with strength and grace, so that we can be free again. “
The opening hours of the gallery are from Friday to Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, contact [email protected]