• On Matter and Spatiality with Görkem Dikel

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Losing oneself in Görkem Dikel’s paintings feels like asking questions never asked before and in the middle of a cosmic riddle; she believes an artist should constantly improve herself and should not be afraid of making mistakes. We talked to Dikel about her artistic journey and her compositions defying perception, pushing us to question our knowledge of the universe.

     

    How did you discover your passion for art? How did you decide to become a professional artist?

    I decided to study art at a very early age. Growing up in a family involved in art was influential. I used to make drawings on pieces of paper, encyclopedia and underneath our marble coffee table. I always used to watch my mother paint anyway. My sister, on the other hand, is a photographer. Actually I don’t regard art as a profession; rather it’s part of my personality.

     

    Your works manifest traces of various technical and thematic approaches. Some appear to be closely related with pop art, whereas others have a more abstract expressionist language. In your opinion, how did your art change over time? Do you feel close to a particular artistic movement?

    I’ve been through various stages throughout my artistic career. In my early years at school, I was looking for a form of realism based on objectivity; as I began to interprete masterpieces, study drawing and harmony after a short while, I also began to produce more abstract and expressive paintings. Yet my approach continued to remain painterly. After unraveling the secrets of the form to some extent, I tended to deconstruct it. As we do so, we do a rationalist intervention on it, and certain questions enter the sphere of the traditional approach of spatiality. I also began to focus on nature back then. I used to look at Cecily Brown and Joan Mitchell on a daily basis; I still do. Again, in that period I was often influenced by Spaghetti Western cinema and desert atmosphere.

    My urge to fragment forms turned into an urge to decompose the matter. Analyzing it in relation to other surrounding forms of matter, I study those transitions between the states of solid, liquid and gas. I explore illusions emerging from those dimensions beyond our perception. And doing all this, I compare the already existing questions on space with questions on spatiality in painting. Some say that the language of my paintings reached maturity relatively early; I owe it to my lack of fear of producing garbage work. I discovered a lot thanks to my spontaneous experimentations.

    Regarding movements, I feel close to the 50s’ American Abstract Expressionism, the New Leipzig School, the Young British Artists, the Bay Area Figurative Movement, Early Renaissance, icons and primitive art forms like Cycladic art. Still, I place myself within the realm of the 21st century abstract painting. We are barely leaving the 1st quarter of it behind and some key developments have already taken place. The subject of my thesis, the understanding of abstraction and spatiality in the 21st century, is surely based on the 20th century legacy but it’s also affected by contemporary media. The return of trends from the past, the impact of fragmented, distorted and unpredictable urban areas on our aesthetic perception, pipes, triangles, geometric contours, wild animals, the desert, tropical plants, inter-textural nuances and virtual symbols all entered the realm of painting and they currently reinforce an eclectic understanding of form. The harmony emerging from the combination of disharmonious elements will continue to mark our century as Doctor Frankenstein’s creature.

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    Görkem Dikel, Eternal Space of a Mine, 2014.

    Your subjects of interest? What are your main sources of inspiration?

    I aim at illustrating the interventions of the laws of physics, nature and universe on the lives of individuals. I purposefully named my first solo exhibition “Bigger Than You”. In my paintings, the current state of physics is influenced by tales, memories, dreams and paradoxes, giving way to structures resembling science fiction and thriller. For instance, in my work titled “The Eternal Space of A Mine”, we are looking at a space to which I added a sense of depth through hatchings. Here I make sure that the lines don’t define the room’s shape. Yet a sense of depth going backwards is perceivable; lines floating in the void create claustrophobic cells and solidify the atmosphere. I did this work with the emotions I experienced after the Soma mine disaster. In naming the work I also took into account the fact that, according to Quantum physics, the concept of infinity refers both to the macro and micro levels. Regarding void, the following quote from Victor Vasarely has a lot to tell:

    “Many theoreticians studying the notion of the ‘plane’ in painting mix up the two different concepts: the volume and the void. Both are three-dimensional; but while the volume is defined and measurable, the void is the space for a phenomenon to be defined with the passage of time”.

     

    The artists you particularly follow and admire?

    I have a huge list of them of whom I will only name a few. Tomur Atagök, İnci Eviner, Selma Gürbüz, Erdoğan Zümrütoğlu, Mahmut Celayir and Mustafa Horasan from Turkey; Qiu Xiaofei, Liu Wei, Isa Genzken, Yutaka Sone, Daniel Heidkamp, Michael Armitage, Jana Schröder, Regina Scully, Jeff Elrod, Eddie Peake, Annie Neukamp, Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger from the world…

     

    You participated to various exhibitions and projects outside Turkey. Which are the most important ones for you?

    In 2010, I participated to an international artist residency program in Spain, with students from France, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. As part of the program organized by Fundación Tres Culturas, we realized plastic art activities, panels and presentations at key artistic and cultural sites. Asst. Prof. Erdal Kara from our school joined us as one of the instructors. During our visit to Córdoba we also visited Fundación Antonio Gala, a foundation created by the author and poet Antonio Gala. It was a Mudejar style monastery with a pool at its center. It had an enchanting atmosphere and a gigantic library with amazing books. On my return, I applied to the foundation’s “Jovenes Creadores” artist fellowship with a project I wrote in Spanish and I was selected. On the other hand, in 2013, at my  exhibition “Empatía” at Galeria de Arte Aula in Sevilla, I noticed that everyone I knew and didn’t know gave me sincere feedback; art was an object of togetherness and joy. In this sense it was very different from the exhibitions we have here. Here, people have been driven to solitude and isolation; but I think it’s a temporary situation.

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    Görkem Dikel, The Rip: Skin, 2017.

    What are the greatest challenges for emerging artists in Turkey? What are your recommendations for them?

    Young artists face various difficulties ranging from families to gallerists. But as I get to know them better, I realize that they themselves are the biggest difficulty. Artists have to be multi-tasking; they have to be their own designers, managers, translators, social media specialists, carriers and assistants to some degree. Thus they have to be open to development, hardworking and corageous.

     

    How did you come across Art50.net? Your thoughts on online platforms?

    I have been selling art through online platforms for the last seven years. My presence in them goes back to my pre-college years. At that time we used to upload our works on portfolio sites, follow each other and exchange comments. Deviantart was one of them; of course I was there with a nickname. There are currently many people in the art scene that I have been following since then.

    Online gallery management is a very serious endeavor; it means rendering a cultural product both popular and accessible without compromising meticulousness and high quality. In its present state, Art50.net can easily compete with many international websites in the same field. But all this is not enough either; if you happen to work with a platform that is not good enough, it might cause a lot of burden ranging from logistics to documentation, both for the artist and the collector. Thanks to some personal recommendations Art50.net was a place I already trusted in this regard as well. Then they offered me a collaboration and I was very happy for it. I believe great projects will come out of it.

     

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • On Art and Literature with Müge Ceyhan

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Heavily inspired by literature in her abstract compositions and offering a fresh approach to the concept of space, Müge Ceyhan is one of those artists who still experience a childhood enthusiasm while creating art, and she is confident in her intuition. We talked to Müge about her creative journey and her main sources of inspiration.

     

    How did your artistic journey begin? In which period of your life and how did you develop your interest in art?

    As a child, story books with pictures became the first building blocks of my imagination, colors and patterns. With a limitless, ruleless and infinite enthusiasm pouring out of my color pencils, I began to draw big worlds onto small pieces of paper, like every child does. Looking at it now, I notice I still keep doing the same. Although actions and methods change, I basically work without making a distinction between literature and painting. The books I read have no images; but the magic of literature and the artistic viewpoint I have acquired throughout the years allow me to create my compositions.

     

    Why do you prefer abstract art? Do you always work that way? Do you also have figurative works?

    Of course, during my art education I did works involving anatomy, figure and still life. In the final years of my B.F.A., I began to produce exclusively abstract works and also to feel that this gave me more freedom. On the other hand, I think that the abstract offers the viewer more room for interpretation and this is pleasant for me.

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    Müge Ceyhan, My Music Town, 2016.

    Looking at your compositions I often feel like looking at an urban silhouette. Can we argue that your works contain some references to the concepts of city and architecture?

    In my recent works that contain more spatiality compared to the past, singular elements are also more highly pronounced and dominant. This, in turn, generates a feeling of space for the viewer. While the city systems we live in are based on filling all the empty spaces, while we struggle to breathe in our cages of concrete, this feeling is unavoidable.

    Yes, this is a correct interpretation; but these silhouettes are often utopian cities, towns, villages… They are living spaces that perhaps do not exist…

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    Müge Ceyhan, The Last Bullet of Van Gogh, 2014.

    Color is another element that is at the core of your paintings. Can you tell us more about your relationship with color? Do you assign a symbolic meaning to the colors in your works?

    This is a great question! Like many other artists my synesthetic feelings are activated as I start opening the oil color tubes and I let them guide me from that moment on. Moreover, I prefer allowing every single color to speak since each carries a meaning and has something to say. For instance, if “Green” wants to sing a melody I try to build a basis for it. A street in a dark and quiet night where everyone is in a fantasizing retreat and the only missing piece is a “Green” melody, for example… this way, anyone can hear and understand it. In short, they tell me what to do.

     

    Your favorite artists?

    Cy Twombly’s naive creativity, Mariana Nelson’s unique and organic style, Jessica Stockholder’s colorful installations, Rothko’s minimalism and Lucio Fontana’s accents made in one single movement.

     

    And those texts, authors and theories that inspire you the most?

    There are some books that make me create specific works. For me, literature is in itself a source of inspiration anyways, and I cannot mention everything. So I will shortly mention the most important ones. First, Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic world has had a dystopian effect in many works of mine but this effect is tale-like and far from its realistic meaning. Metin Arditi’s Turquetto, Ebony Tower by John Fowles and Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins are also important books for me. The must-have art books in my library include Graham Whitham and Grant Pooke’s Understand Contemporary Art and DADA MANİFESTOLARI (Turkish) published by Altıkırkbeş. And John Berger’s Ways of Seeing.

     

    Can you talk about “Where Is Sancho”, your most recent group exhibition?

    I enjoyed it a lot. The idea came from my re-reading of Don Quixote. Taking the same journey with Cervantes’s 17th-century cult oeuvre, where the old aristocrat Alonso Quijano imagines a world without evil in it and embarks on knighthood, pushed me to experiment new materials, textures and approaches. Don Quixote’s naïve mentality, his confidence in the legitimacy of his actions, his belief and the purity he dreams of… In other words, Utopian Socialism manifested its strong influence in the colors and compositions of my canvases.

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    Müge Ceyhan, We’re Gonna Spend The Night Here, 2016.

    Do you have any exhibition projects awaiting us in the near future? Or new works you are planning to focus on?

    Yes, I have new projects both in painting and literature. My new series will be about “squeezed houses”. The viewers looking at more generic silhouettes in my previous works will now experience a closer and more private point of view. On the other hand, the draft of my book on which I have been working for the last two years will be a bit closer to finalization.

     

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • Our Artists Evaluate 2016

    2016 took us by storm… It brought about various artistic experiences as the world witnessed important developments.

    5 of our artists evaluated the year from a professional perspective and shared their expactations of 2017 with us.

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    Aslı Kutluay at Elgiz Museum

    Aslı Kutluay:

    The chaotic situation that we intensely experienced in our country in 2016, the change of system and terror threat. The thing we discuss most often with our friends was “shall we leave” or “where shall we go?”. Ok, let’s leave, but will the pleace we will go to be safer? Perhaps there will be no war, but will we go, just for the sake of a more prosperious life, to a country that carelessly consumes all the planet’s resources, threatening other people’s land, designing the cycle of wars all over the world as a political tool? and will we be happy by producing more garbage where we are? At the end of the day we consume the same oxygen; how safe can we be? I think we should take journeys of individual meditation and purification without leaving the lands we already live in.

    Today the most inspiring characters for me are, for example a young person living in a shelter who dedicated his life to dogs; the Aborigins who know no urge to “possess”, who have no culture of “fences”; or people who dared to set up communities outside the system and to give up on the concept of money… In my works I myself pursue new narratives that would help me express these. I can describe it as a journey to build my own cultural tribe by avoiding repetition, by reflection, development, sharing and purification. In 2016 I intensely worked for my project titled Melting Point where I tried to underline the importance of global warming and wars. Our project curated by Vittorio Urbani was exhibited at the opening of Venice Biennial and in Altamura, followed by its third stop in Istanbul, the Elgiz Museum, during Istanbul Design Biennial as a parallel event, with its more optimistic, updated version. Our paths with Art50.net crossed this ways as well, and I see them as a tribe gallery embracing a  purified, dynamic, innovative and futurist prespective independent of space. In 2017 I want to keep working on new projects where I can share these ideas I have.

     

    Genco Gülan:

    Although the number of my exhibitions, cities and countries of exhibition have increased, 2016 was not a year you could describe with pink sentences. The art sector went through a political and cultural acid test and proved itself. More importantly, the definition of responsibilities that art and artists have began to change under the changing circumstances and they did not remain in the void. Good art likes dilemma, after all.

     

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    Genco Gülan, Taner, 2016. Acrylic on body. Refers to Taner Ceylan. Photo: Ceylan Atuk. Make Up: Ece Çetiner

     

    Baysan Yüksel:

    For me, 2016 has professionally been a period of intense production and transition. Firstly, the most satisfying development for me has been to begin to resume independent work again, in Istanbul. I began new projects. Right now I work on two different series. The exhibition A Season in Hell that I was featured in at Alan Istanbul changed the way I saw my approach towards my work and in a positive way. That viewpoint is also reflected in my current work. Conducting an artist talk and interacting with the visitors at the exhibition PROFILER I joined with Art50 was another activity that broadened my vision.  another important development was the Lulu Comics which we founded with my author frend Zeynep Alpaslan. An independent project we founded to share drawing-stories, tales, children’s books, fanzines, mini-books and more. In 2016 we both worked like ants. Zeynep kept writing and I kept illustratting. Thus in addition to my individual projects I also had the chance to produce illustrations for comics and children’s books.

    My expectations for 2017 are to complete my ongoing series and turning them into and exhibition, joining international shows and artist residencies in this direction. Plus we also have an exhibition project we are planning under Lulu Comics, I also want to realize that project and keep on producing more works. I hope 2017 comes as a more productive, peaceful and optimistic year for all of us!

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    Baysan Yüksel explains her work at the artist talk at PROFILER exhibition

    Saliha Yılmaz:

    Frankly, it seems meaningless to me to talk about life while so much destruction, death and mourning go on around us. But we have to resist and hang in there through all this process so that, with the passage of time, beautiful things can emerge. The greatest professinal developments for me in 2016 were: my graduation from Yeditepe University Master’s Program in Plastic Arts. In the same period I joined a three-week-long artist residency program called “Once Upon a Time in Dartmoor”. My expectation from 2017 is healing, for everyone and everything.

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    Saliha Yılmaz in front of her works at the exhibition PROFILER

     

    Hadra Tanrıverdi Birecik:

    Despite all… As we leave another year behind, I can say that in 2016 I professionally focused on identities, dialogues, metropolis, space-nonspace notions, stories, as I did in the last five years… This has been the year of “Joint Monogolues” that encompasses all of this. I had the chance to exhibit the paintings that I created within this framework at my solo exhibition at Galeri Eksen in October.

    We live in a pluralist, cosmopolitan city or even world, and we are such people.. I mean we are partiall assimilated, partially pluralist. Who among us could be exposed to such a situation and remain immune to it? But in all this chaos, stuff happens in the “big city life” that also inspires you artistically. In this sense I find art fairs rather important for I think they have a quality independent of space. Contemporary Istanbul is one of them. This year we saw its 11th edition and although it hosted a smaller crowd compared to previous years, it was an art event that sustained the ‘Universal Network’ and brought about iverse dynamics throughout the exhibition. How would 017 be; I don’t know. I haven’t planned it. Whatever comes… Whatever happens… did you plan anything? Please don’t, let it flow… Bu I want to be creating art, I know that much.

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    A view from Hadra Tanrıverdi Birecik’s solo exhibition that took place at Galeri Eksen Balat

  • A Pleasant Conversation with Aslı Kutluay

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Aslı Kutluay is a multidisciplinary artist simultaneously engaged in art and design, expressing herself through various media and materials. We had a pleasant conversation with Kutluay who has recently joined the Art50.net family.

     

    How did you begin creating art? What kind of process have you been through?

    It is an interest that goes back to my childhood. I was deeply interested in painting and design. After I graduated from METU – Industrial Design, I took my Master’s degree from Bilkent University –  Faculty of Fine Arts – Department of Graphic Design. I participated to several fairs and exhibitions. I have arrived at the current point in my career also thanks to self-observation.

     

    Your works are dominated by an intense pattern of movement and dynamism. Can you tell us more about your series on Art50.net? How were these dynamic women born?

    In my paintings I prefer tackling subjects like my daily life, sections from my own life story and my own struggle. The selection I made for Art50.net is one of my favorites; for me, a swift, elastic, dynamic escape with a skateboard from a depressing traffic jam, going through spaces in between congested cars, or taking off with my witch’s hat on, imagining to be looking at myself from the high hills of my own world are actually a kind of pursuit for my own truest, purest self. But I have a condition to meet: during purification, I should never give up on childlike joys. This is why I use elements like the swing, the striped socks, the witch’s hat, the mask, the hat and the skateboard with pronounced contours and exaggerated colors.

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    Aslı Kutluay, Baloon Station

    You realized several projects in Italy. How is the Italian contemporary art scene? Have you ever considered staying there?

    Yes, I did several projects there. Melting Point, my latest project curated by Vittorio Urbani also succeeded at establishing the Italy – Turkey connection. It was first exhibited at the inauguration of the Venice Architecture Biennial, followed by a cave underneath the Masseria Jesce building in Southern Italy and Elgiz Museum as a parallel event of the Istanbul Design Biennial. Venice Art Biennial is currently the most important contemporary art event in the world and a pioneer. So Italy will always remain as an authority in contemporary art, not only in classic art. In this sense, my connections there broaden my horizons and educate me. But I deeply love the land on which I live. No place in the world compares to Anatolia. My objective is to travel the world with my projects and not being confined to a single country.

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    Aslı Kutluay, Alcoba Azul

    You’re both an artist and a designer. What would you like to tell us about it? Do you think it’s possible to distinguish the two domains with precision?

    I think art and design have a synergic relationship where art is nourished by design dynamics and design is nourished by the artistic ones.  In my opinion, both contemporary art and design should go beyond aesthetic or decorative concerns, indicate and react to the wrongful, propose alternatives and convey messages. When these are missing, a design object without artistic inspiration remains a decorative and commercial product. Art is always the pioneer; it can borrow methodology from design but I think design that contains no art and philosophy remains insufficient.

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    Aslı Kutluay, Skin Changing

    Your greatest dream about your profession, your life and the world in general?

    People need a collective revolution in their conscioussness so that all the borders can disappear and wars can end. Perhaps then we can all together organize exhibitions in different galaxies and share dreams without limits…

    For the artist’s works, click here.

  • Genco Gülan’s South Korean Excursion

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    These days Genco Gülan is working on his new installation in South Korea. The work at the Suncheon National Gardens, the work has a diameter of 20 meters and is composed of 300 old electronic devices; but none of them, most of them being TV moitors, are connected to electricity. Genco Gülan answered our questions about how the work emerged and what its objectives are.

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    How did this project emerge?

    Labyrinths have been interesting for me for a long time. Mystic forms and their cultural references kept emerging in my paintings for a while. Frankly, I see them as a sort of metaphoric engine and a tool for participation. I also wanted to go from two to three-dimensionality. As Suncheon Bay International Eco-environmental Art Festival (SEEAF 2016) coordinated by Unesco AIAP-IAA asked me to contribute a project, I proposed the Last Labyrinth to them; as it was accepted, I readapted the project to the given space.

    What is the conceptual point of departure in this work? Is it a permanent installation?

    In my works I always own both the material and the form, and the conceptual references of the space. I find it very important that the Last Labyrinth composed of electronic materials stands in an intensely green park. At first it appears as if it does not belong into a such an environmentalist festival. Exactly for this reason it is crucial that it is at a green park in such a festival. As technology changes, so does nature. We must learn to manage this change properly! I wish the labyrinth was permanent but it isn’t; it will be on view for one month. But it receives a lot of public attention. Visitor reactions are very interesting and positive. Children sit down and meditatively watch the turned off TVs. They call my worka TV garden.

     

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    We generally think of artworks “consuming electricity” when we think about new media art. I guess that with your work you also bring criticism to that in a way.

    I use the electronic equipment in the Last Labyrinth completely devoid of electricity. Their symbolic meaning matters to me, not their function. In fact when the viewers see the work they immediately call it a Video Art piece. Art aims at a perceptive communication; so the aim is to eat the grape, so to say. Kicking the vigneron, or even his existence o absence, are secondary issues. I find new media art’s aspect that exacerbates consumer fetishism very dangerous. Famous brands sell their phones to ten or twenty times their worth totally by mobilizing the semantic weaponry o art; and the viewer is ready to receive it. But they pay the price of the theatre play ticket to the wrong people; it is a black market, in a sense…

     

    On the other hand, the technology becoming obsolete with the passage of time is a big problem for the artists and collectors of new media art alike.

    At the end of the day, New Media art is about the ‘media technology’. Also semantically, the so-called ‘old media’ is more attractive since it is richer and has more layers. It is always much more important for me to push the limits of semantic vocabulary and viewer experience.

     

    Then what is new media?

    New media is a field with no fixed definition, and that is why it’s new. When it will be defined it will be old. That’s a fact.

     

    And how should it be preserved, or should it be preserved at all?

    Permanence is a relative concept. The choice of what you want to preserve can even be more important than preservation itself. For example in my labyrinth there are TV monitors that have been used as CCTV. As the same image constantly rotated on the screen , the tubes were burnt and the image was literally incised onto the screen. But does this or will this ever serve us? What excites me about New Media are concepts like Live, Life (alive). The online status sometimes allows it, although relatively. sharing immediately, when it’s fresh, instead of preserving… I also like the fish when it’s fresh; I try to avoid canned fish. But as pollution increases, it gets harder to find fresh fish; you know that already…

     

    We keep hearing that the contemporary art scene in South Korea is very dynamic. What are your observations and experiences?

    This festival is my 4th exhibition in South Korea. I have previously participated to two group shows in Incheon and did a solo show in Seoul. The country is very dynamic but also conservative; they are like us in some ways. On the other hand, it is a country that managed to produce a world-wide artist like Nam June Paik. I had the privilege to meet the master himself. You can’t be a worldwide country without producing worldwide artists or sports people.

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • A Conversation with Ayna: From Pop Alla Turca to Turkish History

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    How was your work Pop Alaturka born?

    Why did I install neon lights on the alla turca toilet? We did the exhibition “NEON-NEON” at Plato Sanat with Marcus Graf. As you may know, as an artist I’m interested in pop, contemporary issues and consumed, outdated or iconic images. I began to reflect on Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain and how he installed it in a gallery for the first time in history and had great success. How would this have been if it had happened in Turkey? How can I add a different point of view to it? And I thought of the alla turca toilet. What does it mean to us? I think it refers to a sociological transition. In 70s or even 80s, it existed in everyone’s homes. Then it evolved into the European-style toilet; and we still use it in some contexts. A sociological look at Turkey’s modernization. I chose to use neon lights in doing so; it represents such a consumed, outdated past.

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    Ayna, “NEON-NEON” exhibition with “Pop Alaturka” 

    Actually there is also a nostalgia and a return to that past these days… Alla turca toilet has also begun to reappear in several places…

    And its name fits so well… We call it “Alla turca toilet”.”

     

    It also reminds me of music somehow… Alla turca music…

    Of course. In fact they refer to each other in several ways. The metaphor itself interacts with other cultures as well. Pop alla turca: slightly arabesque but you occasionally hear the violin. It’s still one of the works I’m most satisfied with. I thought of it recently as I went to France and saw the Fountain at Centre Pompidou.

     

    The work has a modular structure. For instance, at the exhibition “Up in the Air” you hung the work on the ceiling.

    When I first made it I installed it on the toilet, but it was impossible to carry it everywhere; so I started to exhibit it in different forms. Here the idea is the crucial point. And I think the idea is good.

     

    Do you have other works of neon?

    I actually use light in general and I don’t confine it to neon, for I think neon has truly become pop in modern art. I currently use lightboxes more often. Their reflection and nighttime glow impress me. After 2014, my approach shifted to lightbox installations.

     

    Both neon and lightbox are materials used for advertising and they are very important in its language… In fact, they immediately turn any message they carry into an advertising format…

    Absoultely. Ayna itself sounds like a slogan, it’s a striking icon… This is why I define my works as modern or contemporary pop.

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    Ayna, Read

    I feel like we are going towards concepts like Post-Pop and Post-Post-Pop… It’s hard to guess where pop starts and where it ends these days…

    We will be looking at this period in the future and try to understand and describe it then, I suppose…

     

    How about sculpture?

    At home, I have experimentations made of clay. But my main sculptural works consist of plastic sculptures as street installations.

     

    I guess you’re talking about lock-ons, works that you leave on the street and run away…

    Exactly. There aren’t many people in the world who do them. I started doing them in 2012. I notice that the installation assumes a different value with plastic. I currently stopped doing them as works generally get dismantled and taken away. And they also contain abstract expressions. It’s not the right time for Ayna yet. Sculpture has to wait.

     

    This notion of plastic is also crucial… although we perceive it as something temporary, it is one of the least soluble materials in nature…

    And leaving the most powerful mark…

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    Ayna, Olm Biz Erenköy Çocuğuyuz

    …and it’s not fragile, right?

    Absolutely… For instance we talk about plastic lives; but it’s so durable! It doesn’t  wear out. Once you look at life through these metaphors, you perceive it more easily.

     

    Any ongoing or future series or projects?

    I currently reflect a lot on the Transgender issue… I recently did Kerimcan Durmaz’s poster. Athena’s music video has impressed me deeply. The world is going through a change in this sense and this change itself has somehow become pop too. It’s good that people are interested in male and female gender concepts and everything else in between. But since we are a relatively new society that tends to follow dogma, we either react to it fiercely to or show too much love for it. We have to normalize it. For example, there are people who condemn Kerimcan Korkmaz for earning so much money. But this is perfectly normal in a capitalist society; it’s a question of demand and supply. It’s not right to compare him with Neşet Ertaş who left debts behind as he passed away. It’s like comparing apples with pears; they aren’t equivalent. The content is completely different. Perhaps Kerimcan will remain more plastic in the future, whereas the other will become a cult, an icon.

     

    Everything should be evaluated within its own context… Your works are totally about context… Layers of meaning attributed to icons… Müzeyyen Senar, for example… From there you may jump to the Republican history, to women….

    Even to rakı and freedom of alcohol consumption. She is an icon; no one is like her. That attitude, that character, it’s really unique.

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    Ayna, Benzemez Kimse Sana

    She also remains outside the mission attributed to women… In our society, women are either mother figures or sexual objects… Müzeyyen Senar defies both stereotypes…

    Exactly. She’s like rakı; those hand gestures… There’s an expression there. She is unique in our history. We have to read these icons from our recent history very carefully. Contemporary women may find very powerful messages there.

     

    In fact, as you place these icons next to each other, they create a recent history album.

    Definitely. Please examine the Zeki Müren exhibition that took place at Yapı Kredi very carefully. I looked at all the photographs there. Until Kenan Evren’s rule he’s more feminine but then he becomes more manly. He applies autocensorship; he probably received warnings at that time. Photographs are enough to illustrate it. We have to look closely to the people who left a mark in our history. And, as an artist, I try to reflect what I see. I’m  a mirror for the society, for the man on the street. I’m someone who’s inspired by what he sees and enjoys reflecting it back.

    For Ayna’s works click here.

    For Ayna’s video interview click here.

     

     

     

     

  • On the Concept of Void, the Loss of Nature and the Adventure of Painting with Fatih Dülger

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    In his works, Fatih Dülger focuses on the concept of void. He chooses painting both as a reaction to the loss of nature and an effort to understand it; he refers to painting as an indispensable act that makes life more bearable.  We dived deep into a conversation with Fatih about his artistic practice.

     

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    Ufuksuz, 2015

    How did you decide to pursue an artistic career? How did your interest in art emerge?

    I started painting at an early age and it emerged completely naturally; there was no guidance. When I was in middle school, I used to make gouache and oil copies and dedicated considerable time to painting.  University was a decision time for me, and since then the process has been going on more seriously. Being involved in art has always made life more livable for me. This gives me motivation and continuity.

     

    Your works evidently manifest sensitivity for nature. What kind of a nature is it? Similarly, you are deeply involved in the concepts of void and space. How do you study them in your paintings?

    The first thing that drove me to nature was probably my anxiety for its extinction and loss of beauty. We often lack the time and opportunity to fully experience it, and I try to compensate for it by incorporating it into my paintings. In this sense we may talk about a romantic approach, but during the production process I behave rather analytically. Although my images of nature reflect what is natural, they also illustrate an artificial, fictional and calculated order. In fact, I don’t try to imitate something that exists by itself but I aim at analyzing and understanding it. I try to create alternative compositions and spaces by using essentially identical or similar elements, thinking about the ways in which we can use the wide range of materials offered to us by nature. At this point, the “void” becomes very functional both conceptually and plastically. As it ceases to be an instrument or an element and dominates the painting’s source and thus its meaning, the resistance the remaining things build against this dominant void generates a form of spatiality. And although this painterly problem is my main area of interest, we may also refer to the philosophical, religious and scientific meanings of the concept of void as the source of this priority. It is a very significant term in various fields ranging from existential philosophy to Taoism and Quantum physics, to the extent that this plurality renders its definition rather difficult. For me, a concept open to so many different and deep meanings is a strong source of inspiration.

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    Göğe 2, 2015

    You also work as an academic instructor. What would you like to tell us about it?

    I received my B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University but I work at the Department of Artwork Conservation and Restoration at the same university. The department is exciting for me as it offers alternative possibilities. Examining and understanding artistic processes in more detailed and technical terms means information about the artists’ lives and how they relate to art. In addition to several advantages, being at a university may also bring about a time management problem, especially during the creative process. This situation renders my time dedicated to painting even more valuable.

     

    Do those who receive art education in Turkey have their expectations satistifed once and/or after they graduate? How do you think art education can be improved?

    To be honest, I don’t think people have well defined expectations in the beginning of their university education; expectations emerge later and thus we are late. So the problem starts early on. Those who know what the want to do in life start taking what they want from life without remaining stuck; this is a completely personal issue. And as art is a personal matter, art education should be able to respond to this personalization as well. It should not limit individuals’ possibilities by directing them towards a certain conclusion and should not stand in their way. If the education is based on classical drawing or certain schools of thought, this attitude should be strictly preserved.

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    Gece Lambası, 2015

    What are your projects and dreams for the future? Any concepts or subject matters you are interested in that you haven’t had the chance to study yet?

    I don’t  have dreams for a painting career; it’s enough for me to be able to paint and to have the necessary motivation and arguments to do so. In the near future, I intend to further enrich my repertoire of materials; the material itself may become, perhaps occasionally, the artwork’s subject matter. In terms of concepts, I have lately been thinking about sleep as one of the places where the void takes me, and that, in a sense, is actually a state of coma. Departing from here it seems feasible to produce a series of figurative works and I have even started to work on some sketches already. Moreover, the notions of reality and virtual reality have always been interesting for me. I would like to experience producing works in the digital environment , although it doesn’t seem it will happen in the nearest future.

    For the artist’s works, click here.

  • On Material and Artistic Practice with Merve Dündar

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Merve Dündar is an artist with a strong relationship with the material, open to new experiments and confident in her instinct. Although she had formal art education as late as her master’s degree, she constantly invested in her self development. Ve talked to Merve about her creative process, the place of material in it and her other important sources of inspiration.

     

    How did your artistic journey begin? Your B.A. is in administrative sciences; at what point did you decide to pursue an aristic career path and receive formal education in art?

    It is very hard to establish the begininng. I was a quiet child who enjoyed being alone, daydreaming. I remember various scenes. The image of that glass mosaic sailing boat our neighbor made in Avşa Island when I was around 5 or 6 is one of the most unforgetable ones. I remember having watched it being made for hours. I have many such memories from my childhood days. Materials alternative to painting have always impressed me. I used to collect and paint dry tree branches of various forms and sizes. In high school I went to Çizgi art workshop. Mahir Güven used to teach there back then. At that time I wanted to become an architect or a graphic designer. Of course the key question that I myself ask here is: how come did I end up studying economics? We had a family business, there was production, so the idea of continuing that business and being inolved in the production process was also interesting and I think beyond all this I was also carried away. I call it as such because I worked in so many different sectors… But painting has always been a part of my life. It sometimes covered a big portion of it; other times it accompanied me as a thin route beside me while I got carried away. In the meantime I continued attending  various artists’ workshops: Başak Avcı, Nurettin Erkan, Orhan Taylan, Mehmet Güleryüz… I attended Emre Zeytinoğlu and Serap Yüzgüller’s seminars at Simya Gallery, Ali akay’s lectures at Sabanci Museum and MoMA’s online courses, as well as Atilla Erdemli’s philosophy classes. But since I felt the need of a formal education despite all that, I decided to pursue an M.F.A. degree at Yeditepe University Department of Plastic Arts; I also participated at Irina Nakhova’s workshop at Salzburg Academy of Fine Arts.

     

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    Green, 2015

     

    In your works the unit has a prominent place. From which currents, artists of thinkers does your inspiration in this direction come from?

    Units, repetitions and the resulting rhythm are important for me. In the Postmodern world everything is in units; they come together to create the whole and the whole is redefined with every new piece; each piece carries its own reality in itself; consequently, we live in an age of plural realities. Talking about a specific artistic current that influences me is nearly impossible. But in some of my works it is possible to find the traces of minimalism. I can only say that I enjoy reading thinkers like Zygmunt Bauman, Eric Fromm, Foucault, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty and Guy Debord. I’m interested in the rhythm/repetition in works by Gertrud Goldschmidt, Yayoi Kusama and Rona Pondick.

     

    You approach the material from an experimental point of view. Which ones impress you the most? And why? 

    I think I’m both curious and a bit whimsical. I don’t begin working with a specific material in mind. I usually start from a concept that I question and while I explore that concept the need for a certain kind of material emerges. But as I think about the range of materials I currently use, I see that I’m interested in transparent ones such as glass, plexiglass and acetate, and this is competely about the subject matters I’m focusing on right now. On the other hand I keep collecting those materials that mesmerize me as I encounter them. For instance, I built a mini series with the shopping receits I had collected. A friend of mine works with concrete. I recently took a piece from my friend, it is awaiting its destiny at home.

     

    You often produce women/portraits. Does your preference have a special meaning?

    I use the woman/portrait theme but this is not due to a particular preference. I can’t define myself as a feminist; I believe that every kind of discrimination should be abolished. I have a higher tendency to feature female portrait and female body in my works, probably because I myself am a woman.

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    I and the Me, 2016

     

    Who are the artists, both in Turkey and abroad, that you feel close to?

    It is hard to limit them to a few; different aspects of each are interesting to me. İnci Eviner, Rona Pondick, Jenny Saville, Annette Messenger, Mona Hatoum, Selma Gürbüz, Giacometti, İrfan Önürmen, Louis Bourgeouis, Ayşe Erkmen are only some of them.

     

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    Which material would you like to experiment with if you had the chance? What would be your leading utopia/project? 

    I would enjoy working with glass and building a living space of glass within a gigantic sphere of  glass. An installation composed of several spheres the insides of which are visible from the outside but whose transparency can be modified.

  • The Dream of a World without Boundaries with Hüseyin Rüstemoğlu

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    In Hüseyin Rüstemoğlu’s works the body is alone, dominant and at the center of everything… Identities shaped through the body, power struggles and social dynamics are at the core of his artistic practice. For him, individual rights and freedoms have utmost importance. We talked with Hüseyin about his sources of inspiration, dreaming of a world without boundaries.

     

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    Hüseyin Rüstemoğlu, Untitled

     

    How did you discover your artistic tendency? How did you decide to receive art education?

    I guess it began in pree-school years, when I was very little. I still keep some of the drawings I did back then… Then my cousin started to study painting in university when I was in high school; as it was an evening school, I had a chance to attend her classes. I was also taking drawing lessons from her. I was at the department of electrics at a technical high school but I can’t say I enjoyed it a lot. I continued studying electrics in university. In my second year I decided that I could no longer do it and I continued my studies in art.

     

    Which writers and thinkers inspire you the most?

    Lately I began to get closer to poetry. Probably because it leaves more space for thought. Poets were a field of interest for me already in my early youth. Perhaps also because they nourish the texts I use in my paintings… Birhan Keskin, Tezer Özlü, Jean Genet.. I currently read Punk poetry…

     

    How is your relationship to nature? What is its place in your art?

    It actually as a big place in my life… I choose to be away from town as often as I get the chance. That huge void where I can breathe and relax… In my works, the void corresponds to nature.

     

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    Hüseyin Rüstemoğlu, You Didn’t Tell Me to Stop

     

    Identity, gender and the body as a space for power struggle stand out as recurring themes in your works. Are you interested in performance art? Can we argue that your works are somehow related to performance art?

    If we consider that I refuse the established rules in society, that I emerge as an opposition, that I don’t let power issues reside in me, and that I also turn my own body into an imagery, my works can be considered close to Performance Art. There are also performance artists that I follow with enthusiasm.

     

    There are many countries like Canada that came a long way in recognizing different identities. In your opinion, where does the globally rising LGBT movement go? Do you think art has an impact on these developments? Vice versa, what kind of reflections do these developments have in art?

    LGBT groups embrace a language based on basic liberties, equality, justice and recognition. Many other leading groups shaped their actions around these universal demands and consequently developed the homosexual politics based on certain identity concepts. Nowadays LGBT groups began to have a say in political issues to a certain extent and proceeded with the protests they organized despite government censorship. United Nations Human Rights Commission had published a report on preventing discriminatory laws and practices as well as acts of violence based on gender. The importance of this report lies in the emphasis it places on concepts like universalism, equality and non discriminatory approaches. LGBT politics in Turkey also turned its focus on universal demands such as human rights and justice. In Turkey, politicians that can generally be defined as conservative avoid gender issues, especially homosexuality. The stamelate and fear in academic and scientific literature continues as well. On the other hand, the visibility of LGBT problems increases in mass media; the same increase takes place in performing arts, literature and artistic practices in general. Art is a strong language that also has a political aspect. The artwork overcoming forbiddenness, punishment, pressure and censorship and the artist building a new reality nourish this dynamic and make it audible and visible. Therefore, LGBT individuals making their presence heard unavoidably become popular as any other contemporary phenomenon, become more visible and thus become a subject for art.

     

     

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    Hüseyin Rüstemoğlu, Balance

     

    Which artists do you follow in Turkey and/or abroad?

    I still get the strongest inspiration from Egon Schiele; I follow artists like Josef Koudelka, Jan Saudek, Joel Peter Witkin, Cindy Sherman, H. R. Giger, Hannah Höch and I am inspired by them.

     

    Finally, which problem in the world would you solve first if you had the chance?

    I wish humanity could emancipate from religious fanaticism and nationalism. I dream of a world without boundaries…

     

    Click here to reach the artist’s page

  • Şener Yılmaz Aslan’s Passion for Photography Overcomes the Absence of the Camera

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Şener Yılmaz Aslan received considerable public attention with his success at Mamut Art. As the sensitivity in his works combines with his decisive aestetic approach, the resulting images become immersive, telling a lot with a few words and taking the viewer to a journey and back. We talked to Şener about his photography career, his artistic viewpoint and his sources of inspiration ranging from music to philosophy.

     

    How did photography enter your life? How did you decide to focus on photography?

    After I graduated from high school in Mersin in 2004, I began to follow some photography websites but I didn’t have a camera. I started to discovr the technical structure of a camera as I kept reading the comments on these websites. After a while I wanted to produce my own works; but I couldn’t acquire a camera for a long time, even an amateur one. I tried to obtain photographic images by scanning various decorative objects and some objects I found in my room. I was building various fictional compositions by arranging these images on computer software. In the same period of my life I was also deeply impressed by some works of Sabit Kalfagil; years later I became his student at Marmara University. Although I was influenced by photojournalism and a documentarist approach I was still enjoying building photographic images with the scanner. I was simultaneously interested in electronics and computer programming and I began to prepare for art school with the dream of designing better websites. Two years after being admitted to Marmara University Department of Industrial Design, I began to study double-major in Photography and that same year I decided that photography was what I wanted to do in life.

     

    Your works manifest a simple and abstract approach. Are there any specific writers or texts that inspire you accordingly?

    Although I have works that might be considered abstract, in general they are not. In my later works I abandoned the abtract. But this doesn’t mean that I will never revisit it. In addition to various books and articles discussing traditional documentary and contemporary photography, I can also say that I find some novels very nourishing. I follow contemporary photographers’ articles alongside authors like Sartre, Camus and Benjamin.

     

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    Şener Yılmaz Aslan, Illusory Discussions #5, 2012

    And your creative method? Do you predetermine your subject matter and depart from there? Or do you embrace an approach based on improvisation, going wherever your eyes take you?
    I actually do both. I can search for a location I conceptualized in advance, but I can also build a series out of images that I didn’t predict would come together one day. Especially in my early years, I used to spend my time wandering around Istanbul with my analogue camera, looking for surprises. even though I had a few images I could consider beautiful I didn’t find them useful as they were not interconnected. But I still kept on making them as I saw them as a sketch back then. As time passed I began to focus on certain issues. Currently my documentary mages still rely on coincidences; sometimes I decide they are useful while it is all happening, and other, more often times I do so in front of the computer. For instance the series titled “Tavaf” emerged out of meticulous pre and post calculations; the only spontaneity in them were the people in them.

     

    Which artists do you admire and follow, in Turkey and/or abroad?

    In addition to names like Jeff Wall and Andreas Gursky, I also enjoy following Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin and Hans Bellmer’s works. In terms of documentary/photojournalism I follow agencies like Magnum, Noor and VII. The impact of film directors like Theo Angelopoulos, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Pedro Almodovar and Michael Haneke is also considerable.

     

    Your works are marked by a finely tuned rhythm; the composition element is highly visible and powerful. Do you like music? What is its place in your art?

    I listened to a lot of folkloric music as a child an protest music after high scool. I knew the songs of Grup Yorum, Ruhi Su, Grup Kızılırmak, Ahmet Kaya by heart. Such ideological genres not only did strongly affect my philosophy of life but also my photographs. But this had more influence on my general approach to photography rather than my approach to rhythm and composition. These songs have a huge influence on the fact that I still produce documentary photographs at political demonstrations. As I started my university studies, I began to listen to other genres including classical music as well.

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    Şener Yılmaz Aslan, High Pitched, #8, 2012

     

    Which place in the world you have been to has been the most special and important one for your art? Where in the world would you want to go and take pictures if you had the chance?

    The town on İdil in Şırnak (Southest Turkey) where I went for a photography project was a special place for me. I thought I went there under so many risks, but once I realized that the people there lived within much bigger risks for their entire lives my perception changed and the outcome in terms of artworks was different from the one I originally expected to deliver. A few weeks after İdil I went to Australia to collaborate with a friend on his Yörük-Aborigine documentary and I had a chance to visit a few different cities. It felt like a journey into the future… I think I would like to go back to Australia and stay there for a while, coming up with various photography projects.

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