Hayal Pozanti’s Lush Paintings Magically Transform the Natural World

Osman Can Yerebakan, Artsy, 17 April 2024

Relocation has long been essential to Hayal Pozanti's painting practice. Little did she know that moving to Houston from Turkey at age eight, for example, would influence the sinuously abstract and buoyantly colored body of work for which she first became known a decade ago. That immersion in English, and the sudden return to Turkish a few years later when her family moved back home, inspired "Instant Paradise," the series of paintings Pozanti created based on an imaginary alphabet she composed with 31 glyphs. Each shape refers to a letter in the English alphabet but possesses its own form. Pozanti configures them in various combinations to write, in a language entirely hers, feelings or ideas that speak to the wonder of existence-like "Number of variations in smiles that human beings possess," or "Billions of neurons in the brain and the stars in the Milky Way."


Pozanti started the "Instant Paradise" series with sharper forms, such as those she presented in her first institutional exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2015. The paintings eventually evolved into more fluid shapes around 2017, which was also when the artist settled in Los Angeles for three years. There, she was exposed to "hikes, backyards, palm trees, and coyotes" for the first time. This contact with nature loosened her brushstrokes. After years of cramped city life in Istanbul and New York, the natural world was not a far-away idea, but "something I was closely acquainted with, right by my house," she said from her studio in a Zoom interview.


This environment provided the seeds of a new series, which she first unveiled at Timothy Taylor's New York space last year. That show inaugurated her new artistic chapter with large paintings of natural vistas that seem both alien and familiar. With their uncompromising scales and joy in color, Pozanti's landscapes beckon multiple interpretations, like dreams, or Rorschach tests in rainbow. Regardless of what the viewer sees, the artist's decidedly personal translation of her world is apparent. On April 25th, Timothy Taylor's London headquarters will open Tender Mountain, a second exhibition of works from the series featuring lush bursts of flowers and meteor-like raindrops.