The fact that naturalism is frequently confused with realism in the field of fine arts might be due to certain historical conditions. Obviously, realism should be discussed separately from other disciplines that isolate all experience. Yet, it can be considered that the main point of discussion seems to be the common notion of realism not as a variable achieved by comparative ways but as a constant measure. If realism could be placed on a new basis, certain efforts in fine arts could lead the audience to reconstruct a work in consciousness. This discussion directly leads us to the idea of the unity of form and content; and style becomes the main element that would hold that unity. Those art forms that construct realism not as absolute but as variable could provide new solutions to the binarism between form and content. Thus, the appearing form is nothing but the variable content expressed through the style.
Figure has various uses in fine arts. Figurative sculpture, at least in the modern and pre-modern periods, has shown certain deficiencies in forming the body and its placement as far as the elements of tension, dynamism and surface values are concerned. Overloading of the figure by muscles, ignoring the possibilities of movement because of large scale and visual weight are some of the negative results. In such cases, the struggle between form and content has resulted in reduction of one into another. However Ercan Sağlam’s works call for experiences that directly question the existence of a given content, and that makes it possible to discuss figure’s position and its function.
Considering the three dimensionality of sculpture, the tension and struggle between inside and outside is a main problem for Ercan Sağlam; his work in a way, problematizes the inside and outside conflict using the potential of sculpture. Sağlam’s graduate studies and early works mostly refer to the contradictions in the processes of artistic creation. This series of works investigate the plastic relationship between form and content as well as the relationship between a mechanical construction and the arch form that supports it. This can be considered as a critical expression of the tense relationship between the organic and the mechanic.
In Sağlam’s later works, the materials used and the techniques of cutting and constructing can be regarded as indicative of an attitude that searches for traces of experiences relating to the sense of touch. The way wooden pieces interlace reminds the organic structure of human body. Yet, this is not a reminder of a normal bodily experience; it is rather a search for the possibilities of the image of a human body motivated by the ideas of destruction, construction and reconstruction accompanied by the surface effects created with some traces of cutting Another characteristic of the works is that the pieces reminding human body have an ironic relationship with the idea of unity. A significant point of emphasis in Sağlam’s later works is the breaking down and falling into pieces of the body. That refers to an attitude refusing the search for a human essence but looks for an articulation of the body in its socio-cultural implications. Sağlam, who always try to benefit from the potential of the material itself, tends to construct an organism trying to orientate itself by means of its mechanical structure. Therefore, Ercan Sağlam’s work presents possibilities of a metaphorical approach towards reality accompanied by a criticism of technology.