Canan Tolon’s artistic practice centers on nature’s continual renewal and on architecture as a cultural enterprise. Tolon designs an intellectual and visual world around the resistance between nature and architecture, and the contradiction and consequences born out of their encounter. Her experimental works always remind one of the border between life and death, as she makes the viewers question whether these images are real or illusion, photographs or paintings. Incorporating natural materials such as grass seed and water in her paintings, Tolon lets nature come to life by setting metal pieces on her canvases and leaving these outside as a means to let weather transform them. For Tolon, traces of time become an important starting point for the development of her paintings.
The architectural sections that show vast, endless and abandoned geographies in her compositions remind one of the struggle of humans against nature and the processes of destruction, construction and reconstruction. In these paintings where every little detail is constructed with paint, Tolon depicts the human processes of transforming and reforming nature, and the chaos, conflict and uncertainty caused by these processes in a distressful atmosphere.
Canan Tolon (b. 1955, Istanbul) received baccalauréat in philosophy and letters at the École Française d’Istanbul. She studied design at the Edinburgh Napier University and the Trier Facchochschule; interior architecture at the Middlesex University, London. She completed her graduate degree in architecture at the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. Her works are in various collections in Turkey and abroad. She has been extensively exhibited in prominent Turkish and foreign institutions such as Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and SFMoMa, to name few. She lives and works in Istanbul and San Francisco.