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Drawing Lines: Tuğba Şimşek

Tuğba Şimşek is always on the move.

Her view attentive and as unbiased as possible, Tuğba Şimşek roams her surroundings and scans the stream of passing (urban) landscapes, passersby, architecture and lettering. With the same seriousness she registers, picks up and processes the conspicuous and the seemingly marginal, image and text fragments. She condenses the complexity and polyphony of urban space, the simultaneity of withering shrubs, honking taxis or ornamental decorations of buildings – colours, forms, sounds and smells – in a few quickly set strokes on paper. Sometimes clearly identifiable contours can be made out in the lines, at other times they get lost in the shadowy, approximate.

"As soon as I look at it, the drawing is finished ..."
- Tuğba Şimşek

The limits of pictorial representation are tested: how far can procedures of formal reduction be exhausted without endangering the symbolic reference function, the symbolic nature of the drawings? What (imagined) meanings are assigned to the integrated Spanish and Turkish words? And what sounds and moods do they (re-)produce? Tuğba Şimşek pursues a concretely site-specific, yet nomadic artistic practice that requires regular changes of environment – a working method in which a studio or fixed production facilities are no longer necessary, since she aims for a high degree of immediacy, a direct processing of what she experiences and sees.

“Places for me is the locus of desire.“ Places of public space are shown in Tuğba Şimşeks works as shimmering relational structures of heterogeneous entities. Bodies, architectures and moods seem to be captured only momentarily in a possible form. These traces of the city are enriched by personal memories: what we are shown is a reality mediated by subjective experience.

As fragments of memory ...

In the act of drawing, elements of the exterior and psychic interior merge quite naturally. Tuğba Şimşek speaks more through the city than about it. In this, she is accompanied by a pack of dark, mute creatures crouching on the ground or roaming chimeras who don’t quite want to be dogs, cats or birds. "Where to stick the present, as it quickly becomes past, within the messy city of the mind?“ Even more than photographs, drawings can capture the contradictions of lived experiences and emotional intensities.

“Where to stick the present, as it quickly becomes past, within the messy city of the mind?“

“My art doesn't have to be shown in a white cube. Every now and then you come across my work in the middle of the street, if you keep your eyes open."

And what sounds and moods do they (re-)produce?

The almost nostalgic desire to conserve experiences and perpetuate memories is clearly expressed in Tuğba Şimşeks works. In contrast to earlier works, Tuğba Şimşeks Sketchbooks, her new drawings no longer follow a fixed chronology; as fragments of memory they can be combined to form ever new constellations. They seem like loose pages of a travel diary but are not exclusively introspective: Particularly in connection with the inserted words – which allow vague conclusions about the place of origin – the viewers seem to be addressed and encouraged to exchange ideas.

For some time now, Tuğba Şimşek has also been working on methods to give the unconscious more space in her artistic expression. Drawing is established in Tuğba Şimşeks everyday life as a continuous and almost performative, body-oriented practice, so that internalized patterns of movement can be called up intuitively. The colours used are also chosen rather casually. When she works with the black coated scratch paper – which is in contrast to conventional drawing a subtractive, material-removing procedure – she has no control over the exposed colours at all.

What comes into consciousness en passant is accepted as part of the artistic statement and a random form of cognition is forced. The subjects of her pictures vary considerably from work to work – the only exception is a series of drawings in which wavy lines suggest the spray of waves or the contours of clouds. Motifs about which Rosalind Krauss writes in Das optisch Unbewusste (The Optical Unconscious): “The sea and the sky stand for a way of packaging ‘the world’ as a holistic image, as a field constituted by the logic of its own frame.

What comes into consciousness en passant is accepted as part of the artistic statement ...

This text was written by Nele Kaczmarek, Curator in the art associationBraunschweig.

About the artist - Tuğba Şimşek

She travels a lot. Most recently she has visited Bogotá, Colombia and Istanbul, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir and Uşak in Turkey. She also spent a few days in Frankfurt and Braunschweig.

During this time a series of new drawings and prints have been created, which form the core of the exhibition Drawing Lines. Even before entering the exhibition, visitors see an updated version of the work Raven Feather, Turkish Poppy and Guinea Fowl, framed 2015/20, in which the motif of the artist as a traveller is introduced.


  • 2019 - Master student,Olav Christopher Jenssen
  • 2018- Sofia Hultén, Julia SteinerHochschule für Bildende Künste,Braunschweig
  • 2016- Diploma with distinction,Hochschule für Bildende KünsteBraunschweig
  • 2015- Art Center College of Design,Los AngelesUSA
  • 2013- Metropolitan Universityof Art and Design, CardiffWales
  • 2010- Hochschule für Bildende Künste,Braunschweig,Monika Grzymala, Nadine Fecht,Björn Dahlem, Raimund Kummer
  • 2008 - Studies,Mannheim,Barbara Hindahl, Michael Witlatschil

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