“Kiss My Lips, Dagger My Heart”

14 January- 11 March 2023



PILEVNELI is pleased to present Ali Elmacı’s personal exhibition. The exhibition entitled “Kiss My Lips, Dagger My Heart” presents the artist’s directorial debut in addition to his recent works on canvas and on paper. Three new short films produced by Bulut Reyhanolu “Smelled It When I Tasted It” “We’ll Go Out to the Garden Too” and “Love Me More Than Yourself” translate Elmacı’s visual language and perspective onto a new medium.


In 2020 Ali Elmacı started working on his series of works titled “Kiss My Lips, Dagger My Heart,” which focuses on topics such as individual, societal, and political two facedness. Though the exhibition includes works from other series as well, the all-encompassing theme is two facedness. The extent and types of two facedness are grouped into several series in the exhibition.


The artist imagines the exhibition as a spaghetti western, drawing a parallel between the storyline of a western and the narrative of the exhibition. Elmacı interprets the theme of two facedness as a murder resulting from a duello. Characters that are both good and bad get tangled up in situations that can be viewed as a dilemma.


Just like in Westerns, two facedness is a trait that can be seen in all of Elmacı’s characters. Evil All of Elmacı’s works are visual investigations of the anatomy of a murder that appears to be a duello; the works concentrate on the details of the murder.


At the entrance of the exhibition is Elmacı’s painting, “Kiss My Lips, Dagger My Heart.” . A couple is having a picnic in the shade of Michelangelo’s David, the woman hugging a skull, and the man using her waist to position his shotgun. David represents an object of idolatry that is the ruling power. The David in Elmacı’s painting is weighing Goliath with his eyes, as he is Michelangelo’s original version. He hasn’t thrown his stone, hit the giant, nor cut his head yet, but he is frozen in the exact moment he became sure that he can take him on. Goliath symbolizes the biggest nightmare of both governments and its citizens—terror. Yet, the artist turns David into a wish tree by covering it with post-its. 


“Love Me More Than Yourself” is one of the three short films that mark Elmacı’s directorial debut. An allusion to “Kiss My Lips, Dagger My Heart,” the movie features another icon that the public has embraced as a savior. The audience watches an unrecognizable princess covered in post-it notes that. Aleyna Tilki is in the position of David with the portraits of icons, heroes, leaders, and pop stars glued onto her. According to Elmacı, Aleyna Tilki isa figure idolized by pop culture, a sort of icona. Elmacı says that people’s expectations from popular icons can homogenize them by flattening out their quirks.


Another short movie from the exhibition, “Smelled It When I Tasted It,” tells the story of a family in reference to prides of lions that hunt and eat using a collective strategy. Their victim, the seventh character, is Saint Sebastian. Famous for being one of the first Christians in history, Saint Sebastian is the commander of the Roman army and the protector of emperors. He was tied to a tree, shot at with arrows and left to die due to his Christian beliefs at a time when the Roman Empire was pagan. Saint Sebastian both protects and disrupts the order, representing a belief that is both liberal and secular. With Saint Sebastian, Elmacı illustrates a duello: the duality ofa character that holds his beliefs separate from his duty. After they are done hunting, the pride of lions leave Saint Sebastian to death and pillage the dinner table.


The third short movie from the exhibition, “We’ll Go Out To The Garden Too,” tells the story of how someone who has found their comfort zone will never leave it. The film depicts a character who refuses to get up from his seat and is forced to go out by someone coming from the underground. The viewers are left to watch the dug of war between the couch dweller and the underground dweller. The main character alters the comfort zone of the character pulling him and falls down from his couch during the battle. He is dragged on the floor, but never lets go of the couch. The duel raises the question of how the scenario would change if the main character would stop resisting. If he were to leave his couch and his comfort zone to fight, he could win and go back to his couch. Instead he chooses to resist, losing his spot and disappearing in a dark corridor.


“Kiss My Lips Dagger My Heart” undertakes two facedness, dilemmas, and duels in varying contexts. These concepts that Elmacı hides behind a veil of symbols and irony enable the viewers to make associations with current affairs.

Ali Elmacı’s solo exhibition “Kiss My Lips, Dagger My Heart” can be visited from 14 January- 11 March 2023, Tuesday through Saturday between 10:00 am- 6:00 pm at PILEVNELI Dolapdere.


For further inquiries:
Doruk Çinar |