Category Archives: ART REVIEW

Neo-Modernism as Social Realism: Nedret Sekban’s “Between Life and Death”

The monumental Nedret Sekban image first grasps the viewer from the huge poster announcing the exhibition down the street from its magnificent location — the Tophane- Amire Center of Arts and Culture in Istanbul.
An intimately engaged view (below) of a gypsy wedding from the Third space  “Between Life & Death” draws in the viewer as participant.  The bride and groom are dancing in a spiral in which the opposites — human/animal, old/young, joy/fear — are wedded into otherworldly ecstasis in which eros and magic are personified.

 Roman Dugunu (Gypsy Wedding) by  Nedret Sekban (2016)

The retrospective of Nedret Sekban, the longtime professor of painting at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, at the majestic domed exhibition space engenders the sacred. Indeed, to look at Nedret’s self-portraits in which he miraculously captures life and death in his face, prompts the question: “Are you a Sikh?”
I had the opportunity to ask Nedret this question when he appeared in the gallery during my second visit, in the last days of 2017. He had one of the most centered and grounded spiritual presences I have ever encountered, and he replied that he is not a Sikh and neither is he an alchemist, though his works infuse the human being with the alchemical elements — fire, water, air, earth — capturing the quintessential element with his invented technique mastered in his recent masterpiece, Where are they going?, which brings the global refugee crisis that affects Turkey like few other countries, into sharp relief.
Crows are a favorite motif as nature’s messengers of death, and therefore imminent change. So are cut flowers, the bouquets which are held by so many of Nedret’s female figures. The sea is another. The power in Sekban’s sea paintings is the overwhelming pressure of waves captured through the emotional force of a controlled brush.

Estirdi Aiolos by  Nedret Sekban (2004)

The monumental wave, crows, cut flowers, fallen bodies and the sea are all metaphors for the state “between life and death” which is the Third state in which the tensions of opposites are held.
This state of the in-between is captured with the juxtaposition between bodies.

Birak Beni Uzanayim III by  Nedret Sekban (2008)

What transforms Sekban’s social realism into neo-modernism is in both his subject matter, the feminine as embodiment of cyclical time of life/death/rebirth, and his formal approaches to painting groups of human beings. In Arinma, he captures a gypsy ritual as a triangle of richly embroidered human bodies, with the shaman/priestess at the point. This human ordering, which he slyly puts into his titles ( ), convergences with geometry to transform the human into the sacred.

Arinma by  Nedret Sekban (2013)

It is a rare painter who captures the primordial feminine in a manner that grabs the viewer, forcing them into participant with the organic surrender to nature. This is evident in his works in the furthest gallery which are titled as the elements.
For example, in organizing the three women into the classical triangle shape of resurrection in the Rite of Spring, the difference is evident between the classical body conceived in the mind and contained within its perfected form and the Sekban primordial body, which extends from the Earth out into space to encompass the quintessential.
The attention to emotion in his figures recalls on a visceral level Kaethe Kollwitz, or Van Gogh.

Baslar Gece Vardiyasi by  Nedret Sekban ( 1990)

The origins are expressionist, bordering on the surreal.

Hashatun by  Nedret Sekban (1973)


Yet, the development of style — from expressionist to social realism to a neo-modernist embodiment of the opposites, the hieros gamos, reveals to a new generation how the quantum leap is made into a holistic style emanating from the painter himself: through formal arrangements of bodies on the surface, the containment of the cyclical process of life/death/rebirth through the formal elements, including an apt symbol bridging the opposites.
These are what make this Turkish treasure into a Neo-modernist revival of painting in the 21st century. Embedded in his narratives of the human condition is a plea for honoring the feminine body that is united to the earth that sustains it. Here we have a (R)evolution in art that delivers the diligent viewer into the quantum leap into participant in the profound mystery of life, a secret that is so mysterious because it contains its opposite, death.
The one who masters this space between the opposites understands truly what life is — a state of being that demands full conscious participation. Sekban told me that he has no computer or electronic gadget.
Lisa Streitfeld is a critic based in New York and Berlin.

Stefano Cagol’s Body of Energy


Stefano Cagol makes a personal revolution universal in his Berlin “Readymade,” the subject of “HOT SEAT” looping behind him in his exhibition at CLB Berlin. (Photo by LPS).

…after tracing his Body of Energy imprint in a one man movement from one end of Europe to the other…

“Symbols, metaphors, current topics, immediateness, stimulating, communicating, openness, multiple points of view. These are the key words to my relationship with the public. It couldn’t be any other way,” states Cagol. “The artwork is an opportunity to better understand our own time and future. It’s a sort of mission. In my account, art is never closed in itself.”

Have van will travel: Cagol’s means of transport is a “mobile station” doubling as a roving billboard from Norway to Gibraltar.

The Italian native’s self-described “scanning energy expedition” culminates in the German capitol with a two month residency at Momentum Berlin and solo exhibition inaugurating a highly visible new collaborative art space of CLB Berlin/ Collaboratorium für Kulturelle Praxis.

Cagol’s signature “Writing as a Landmark” energises a new Berlin geographical arts zone: “The Body of Energy (of the mind): Stefano Cagol” opens Collaboratorium Berlin/CLB in the Aufbau Haus am Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg.

The Italian native is creating a (r)evolution in art through a simple, and yet dceptively complex, method: the infrared camera, which he refers to as his “symbolic energy keeper.” The portable digital apparatus can fit into a knapsack, allowing him the artist to be ever-mobile and spontaneous in his tracking energy exchanges across borders.

“The Body of Energy (of the mind): Stefano Cagol” culminates in Berlin as a multimedia solo exhibition opened on 06 November 2015.

The infrared technology developed by the military for detecting traces of life within human destruction is utilized by Cagol to make a stunning art signature celebrating life, with a timeless purpose…

…revealing (below) the spiritual traces that humans leave behind (above) at TBOE “Hands and Trees” at the MAGA Museum in Italy.

The Torino artist came to prominence in Europe from his “Ice Monolith” project in the Maldives exhibition in the 55 Venice Biennale. He arrives in Berlin with the visual Art-I-facts of his year-long passage through Europe creating Actions and Happenings while igniting the continent with his interactive energy.

ENERGIZING THE STONE: “I am an artist,” he tells me in the gallery when asked if he might be a shaman. (TBOE performance at Mojacar, Andalucia).

Cagol makes Kundalini visible in the art gallery with a humour that Beuys might not appreciate…

…enshrining a found object (in video) that he has photographed (below) enflamed with his energy…

… as demonstrated in the gallery during an impromptu “HOT STONE ACTION”…

Capturing this moment of inner/outer integration in Berlin, the global reconciliation capital makes this boundary-smashing artist a highly visible proponent of what has been largely invisible–the arising of the long-repressed feminine energy taking the shape human embodiment in unification with masculine spirit.

Stefano Cagol places his “Body of Energy” inside his CLB exhibition. He is standing before “TBOE Gibraltar” marking his February 28, 2015 arrival in the most south-western point of the expedition, hosted by Listen to the Sirens, an art initiative in the Montagu Bastion, part of the Little Constellation network.

Cagol may not be making claims of shamanism, but surpasses the much venerated “mystical” Joseph Beuys by virtue of creating visual links between his materials and personally magnetic human vibration, thereby opening a window, within the confines of the art gallery, to the 96 Percent of the universe that is dark matter/dark energy.

Cagol performs a TBOE student InterAction at Salerno Univeristy, transforming the
Piazza del Sapere (square of knowledge) into the shape of the human heart.

The global artist elevates art as transformational–making the here and now experience of energy exchange both tangible and real, linking past, present and future with the ever-present origin.


“The Body of Energy (of the mind): Stefano Cagol” is sponsored by VISIT Programme of the RWE Stiftung für Energie und Gesellschaft gGmbH. The exhibition at CLB BERLIN COLLABORATORIUM, Aufbau Haus am Moritzplatz runs until Dec. 12, 2015 in Kreuzberg. The Exhibition times are Tu.-Su. 15:00-19:00 pm. There will be an Artist’s Tour at 17:00 on Friday, Nov. 27, and Tuesday, Dec. 1, with a Finissage from 18:00-21:00 on 12 December.

A Berlin BOE Action/Performance will take place in December. For further information go to:

Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a cultural critic and theorist who ignited a dialectic of the Kundalini in the international avante-garde. See

All photos are by Stefano Cagol and published with permission of the artist.

Igor Przybylski’s “Maximum Speed”

Since launching this blog in conjunction with the November 2014 publication of Hermeneutics of New Modernism, my first view into painterly forms of a new modernism was an erotic immersion…

Super hot icons of “entanglement” combine with the object(ive) of speed.

Igor Pryzbylski’s “Maximum Speed” (Hochstgeschwindigkeit) creates 21st century icons of quantum entanglement out of 20th century found objects of high speed connections.

Przybylski transmits Web 3.0 into neo-modernist forms transmitted from the found object onto the in-between geometric potential of the flat surface so glorified by that 20th century critic Clement Greenberg..

The encrypted message of speed in the red dot in a 3 sequence contained in the quaternity of crystalization.

The setting was ideal, a gallery in the andel’s Hotel Berlin, with a typically East Berlin view…

…over the S-Bahn tracks.

The unificiation of number in quantity and quality: in figuration (40 + 20 = 60 = 6) and symbol (the 6 wheels of the representing the unity of the paradigm leap from one-sided left brain linear world view into holistic marriage of right/left brain into the cyclical)

Since, experiencing these uber modern images, which tranform the vintage into icons of speed, I have been having dreams of high speed transport as an open door to the manifestation of the quantum leap in my writing…

The sleek geometries imbedded in the door, as opening to a shift in intensity.

I just applied for a new job reporting on international finance…which was strange considering the job is on the U.S. East Coast and I am in Berlin. It is good to get visual reminders of geography as identity…

From the series “Where is Poland”, a visual understanding of why Poland was forever being invaded and annexed by its neighbors.

The entanglement of the object into a unified sleek modernist icon of speed.

…offering to do for global finance reporting what I did for a global art movement, the quantum leap into Web 3.0.

I find this image of electrical connection so incredibly erotic! Reinforcing my feeling is the ontology of number, five rempresenting the feminine number of change entangling the binary object(ives) into the invisible third: speed!

…There is magic in the neo-modernist Badiouian “number is ontology” language this Polish artist created as a result of his “entanglement” with international critics at the 2013 AICA Congress in Slovakia…

Przybylski interacting with the AICA critics during the train ride from Kosice to Bratislavia.

Under high speed conditions, steering is key..

Particularly when the wheel is divided into three equal parts, and again the three enters the picture as the number of cirlces surrounding the central sphere, which is grey, representing the in-between realm of the Third, a new science of “entanglement”.

So, we will see how this magical connection between inner & outer goes…

Taurus, the astrological sign of the Bull, means wealth. The name combines with the unity of number, a new story told in a novel way: the figurative 3 with the 3 sided triangle x 2 = the 6 unity of the Lovers/hieros games.

Here is the “Maximum Speed” exhibition statement by Igor Przybylski, a native of Warsaw and graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts:

On September 2nd, 2006, the Taurus locomotive of the EuroSprinter family set a new world record for conventional electric locomotives. No. 1216-050 locomotive with a capacity of 6000 kW owned by Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB reached a top speed of 357 km/h near Ingolstadt. 10 locomotives of the series are currently used in Poland by PKP Intercity. The Maximum speed / Höchstgeschwindigkeit exhibition is the result of an analysis of the record-breaking Taurus series’ design, as well as their predecessors, the DB 103 series, which in 1985 broke the world record on German rails, reaching the speed of 283 km/h.

Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a critic for Huffington Post Arts and author of the Hermeneutics of New Modernism based in Berlin.

All images of Igor Przybylski’s “High Speed” are copyright Lisa Paul Streitfeld.