• On Cinema and Popular Culture With Kerem Topuz

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    The newest member of the Art50.net family and a cinema professional, the artist Kerem Topuz focuses on contemporary consumerism and popular imagery. We deeply enjoyed our conversation with Topuz on subjects ranging from Pop Art to Capitalist Critique.

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  • A Critical Look at the Concept of Progress with Doğukan Çiğdem

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Doğukan Çiğdem’s childlike, primitive characters point at the ridiculousness of humanity’s narcissistic admiration for itself and its civilization. They question how we get lost in the darkest tunnels of time with the illusion of dominating it. The artist poetically told his own story to us.

     

    How did your artistic venture begin?

    I had faith in the transfer at the very tip of the pyramid; my awareness emerged in my early twenties. I wasn’t supposed to keep it to myself. My paintings were supposed to flourish; I had already hit the road. My practicality allowed me to engage with a variety of materials; thus I began to carry the existing story into a diversity of forms.

     

    Did painting or fairy tales come first?

    Painting has always been there. Fairy tales, on the other hand, became a habit at the age of 15 once my reflex for taking notes emerged. I began to write my own short tales and then to illustrate them.

     

    Can you tell us about your conceptual approach?

    We’re able to evaluate pre-historic revolutions more objectively; their consequences had a less significant impact on us as individuals. That is why I prefer concentrating on the notion of progress of the last few centuries and I invite the viewers here as well. In my opinion, the only thing distinguishing some people from others is their ability to think on a daily basis, even only for two or three minutes. Since I discovered the power of forms in triggering questions, I have been trying to create question-like works at I believe are able to push people to think.

    Doğukan Çiğdem, Astral Travel, 2017.

    I’m wondering about your sources of inspiration…

    My main sources are human history, human vs. nature, human vs. human and nature vs. nature. In my paintings I try to emphasize the fact that time changes us and not the other way round.

     

    Your works bring archetypes and fantasy elements to mind. You have a connection with naïve and primitive arts, and it appears to be a critical attitude rather than a stylistic choice…

    You’re right; criticism is originated in how I manipulate aesthetics. An atmosphere of freedom brings authenticity as well, after all.

     

    Our present world is too analytical for many of us. Emotions are overshadowed by thoughts. The same holds for art as well. What would you like to say about this issue?

    The changing world turned intelligence into a must-have trait while it was only one of our many abilities. It was a mistake; organisms were reduced to simple mechanisms. As time went by, our emotional stomach shrank. As a result, we are currently too skinny.

     

    Can you describe your creative process?

    I can say that I sort of cocoon myself. I push my perception to the limit and I observe, I read. I find my inspiration both in literature and real life. You might guess that I experience no shortage of material supply whatsoever.

    Doğukan Çiğdem, Consultations, 2017.

    Contemporary artists you admire and regularly follow?

    I try to follow everyone that’s sincere; I actively engage in an effort to read the forms. The biggest role in interpreting a work of art belongs to the viewer; thus I don’t want to constrain myself by mentioning specific names. I foresee a work-viewer relationship where everyone looks at, reads, interprets everyone else and acts within that narrative.

     

    You also worked as a graphic designer. Do you continue to do so?

    I did some design-oriented, commercial projects in that area. I can’t say I have totally closed that page; I still keep experimenting and learning. But I think my place is rather in humor and literature magazines.

     

    How did your collaboration with Art50.net emerge? And your thoughts on online art platforms?

    I had assumed Art50.net was well equipped and open minded; I was right. I think online art platforms are a necessity but they have to be more selective and as soon as possible. In this sense, I see no alternative to Art50.net in this part of the world and I’m not alone in my impression.

     

    Your new projects in the nearest future?

    I will keep enriching myself with experimental media. I continue making tapestry, painting and sculpting. And I have a solo exhibition which will take place at Galeri Bu in December 2017.

     

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • A Journey through the East and the West, the Old and the New with Ece Gauer

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Ece Gauer is a strong character who regards difficulties as an opportunity for creativity, and obstacles as a source of motivation. Gauer has recently joined Art50.net and we had a conversation with her about her life oscillating between Europe and Turkey, as well as the effects of this experience on her artistic practice.

     

    You graduated from a French high school and went to Germany; you participated to several exhibitions in France. How did the Turkish-French-German triangle emerge?

    Once I graduated from French High School Saint Joseph, I had a short attempt at studying cinema-photography in Lyon; but I came back and continued my education in Istanbul. As I had been painting since my early childhood with the passion within me, artistic creations began to regularly emerge while I studied Fashion Design and Marketing at LaSalle Academy… So much so that I designed a costume inspired by one of Fahrelnissa Zeid’s paintings as my graduation project. No matter what I did, I couldn’t find professional satisfaction anywhere else; painting was much more than a hobby for me. I was successfully accepted to Mimar Sinan University with a last moment preparation and I graduated as a Valedictorian. Then I continued my education in Munich Fine Arts Academy. I won the 1st prize at a mosaic competition in Latvia and then I did several exhibitions in Munich and other places in Germany. The latest exhibitions in Paris, on the other hand, were organized as part of an EU project.

     

    Your lifestyle extending to various geographic contexts certainly has a profound effect on your art and this duality is a source of inspiration for you. This must have had both positive and negative sides to it. How do you experience being an artist both in Europe and in Turkey? What are the pros and cons of each?

    I think during my education in Turkey we were always trained under a European influence, i.e. in terms ofline, color, subject, stain and composition. Once I went to Germany, my world went upside down. We had an eccentric, tough, unpopular professor. If I surrendered to my ego and changed my workshop to avoid him, I was going to have chosen the easy path and rejected change and progress. And he was the one who opened the first door into my self-questioning and pursuit of my culture, my authentic language.

     

    Ece Gauer, Read, 2017.

     

    Your education seems to have turned into an interesting adventure in its own right…

    In the eyes of a German artist, fashion is obviously different from cinema; thus I had to work much harder, conduct more intense research and express myself more clearly. Eventually, what didn’t kill me made me stronger and gave me new horizons. Painting ceased to be a goal and became an instrument for finding the truth and finding myself. In my opinion, I owe to my education in Istanbul the technique of how I’m supposed to use this instrument, whereas I owe my intellectual education to my experience abroad, and I can say I’m still in motion. As a Turkish woman and mother, your effort has to be a hundred times greater if you want to become an artist. And you first have to believe and persevere, of course.

     

    You were trained in several areas including painting and mosaic. How did all these areas you familiarized yourself with affect your artistic practice?

    They are only instruments. My choice of materials depends on availabilities and requirements for each project. For example, I find glass and ceramic very comforting and they express me better with installations. The outcome of a glass-ceramic installation I did in an exhibition in Munich was very satisfying. You need to use alternative materials from time to time; missing the canvas is also good for you.

     

    Your works contain an amalgam of references to a variety of historical periods and cultures. How do research, planning and intuition, coincidence interact in your practice? Can you tell us more about your conceptual approach?

    I went back to the roots, to the past and began to question who we were. People who see my paintings abroad keep saying things like “where are you from; this is very different; it has both an Eastern and a Western feeling to it”. Indeed, I am likewise; it wasn’t appropriate to create something that I wasn’t. Painting has its must-have elements; composition, color, form, lines, and these are universal rules but beyond them, it’s up to the painter’s world to really build content. I’m influenced by what I read, my philosophy of life, my surroundings. And everything I draw inspiration from comes from these lands, from this culture; if I painted like a European, that garment wouldn’t fit me; but of course, there are also things that I’m influenced by in the West.

     

    Ece Gauer, Polished Heart with Patience, 2017.

     

    Artists you admire?

    Burçin Erdi is an artist whose character and paintings I admire simultaneously. I can mention Neo Rauch, Anselm Kiefer, Marina Abramovic and Jean Marc Bustamante. Bustamante was also one of the professors at ADBK Munich.

     

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

    I heard about it from an artist, a friend of mine and have been following it and appreciating it since. I think online art platforms will become more mainstream. And artists will achieve greater visibility and reach a broader audience through them.

     

    Your upcoming projects?

    I will have an exhibition in Munich in June. On the other hand, I have a solo show in Tegernsee due late August.

     

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • The World of Tales, Stories and Myths with Deniz Defne Acerol

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Deniz Defne Acerol is truly a storyteller. In her compositions, she uses classical and mythological references with a contemporary critical approach. We talked with Defne who has recently joined the Art50.net family about her life, paintings and ongoing projects.

     

    You were born in Hong Kong. How old were you when you left? What was the impact of this experience on your philosophy?

    I stayed in Hong Kong until I was one year old. My family travelled to places like Hong Kong, Bali and Thailand, learning their music, clothing, cuisine, art, i.e. lifestyle which added diversity and richness to their lifestyle. I grew up in Turkey; but thanks to my family and the diversity I saw and heard through them helped me develop my imagination skills and adopt an alternative perspective.

     

    How did you decide to stay in Turkey and study art here?

    My family’s decision to come back to Turkey when I was one was due to issues related to work. I descend from a line of architects, painters, designers and sculptors. I began drawing at a very young age, painting the granite and wooden walls of our home. My family was very understanding; they always gave me support in whatever I did. They definitely wanted me to study a field I would enjoy working in. So I chose my childhood passion from a range of alternatives including cooking, sculpture and painting. This way my family helped me turn my childhood passion into my profession. Both my parents always used to tell us stories to develop our imagination. We used to anxiously wait for them to go on to hear how the story continued. And I finally wanted to create my own stories.

     

    Interestingly, I feel like your works combine the effects of classical etching with that of anime/manga. What would you like to tell us about it? 

    As I was studying at Mimar Sinan University under the mentorship of Nedret Sekban and Ahmet Umur Deniz, I began to add in my paintings my humorous stories in addition to their academic and rational viewpoint. They truly encouraged my approach. This way, stories slowly began to emerge. I also had taken etching lessons from Can Aytekin. Hatching pen was very suitable for me as its effect was similar to etching. As I combined my stories with such a material that made life so much easier, works which combined classical etching and anime effects emerged.

    Deniz Defne Acerol, Laboratory, 2016.

    It is evident in your artworks that you are heavily inspired by mythology and fairy tales. The concept of storytelling is currently becoming extremely popular all over the world as well. Do you ever produce works for fairy tale books or storytelling events?

    These days I’m working on some projects I have been developing with my older sister. Su studies painting and since she’s also an archeologist, she has very extensive knowledge on mythology and legends. Making use of the latter, we have been writing a story together and I have been drawing illustrations for it.

     

    Do you make use of digital technologies in producing your works? How do you regard digitally produced artworks?

    There are very smart and impressive works produced in digital environment. Frankly, as I look at some of them I realize they surprisingly involve a lot of mastership and a lot of things I still need to learn. I’m a Photoshop user and I try to follow the developments in the drawing software market on a daily basis. But in my works where I use traditional materials I don’t make use of Photoshop or similar programs; I don’t want to make my job easier and deprive myself of the progress I will make thanks to challenges.

    Deniz Defne Acerol, Boat Trip, 2016.

    Artists you admire?

    They include Taner Alakuş, Eda Taşlı, Emin Mete Erdoğan and Nick Alm.

     

    Your upcoming works and projects?

    I currently enlarge and change the materials of my ‘Fish Market’ series exhibited in Mamut Art Poject 2016, and thus keep working on the same series. I also work on the project I explained earlier.

     

    How did you find out about Art50.net? What are your thoughts on digital platforms?

    I had many friends and acquaintances whose works were exhibited on Art50.net. They contacted me after Mamut Art Project and I was very pleased that my works drew attention. Digital platforms are indispensable in today’s world. Even education is available through the internet nowadays. I can reach anything I’m curious about. I think digital platforms offer great advantages to those who know how to use them for research. This way we have the opportunity to access raw and correct information without anyone’s manipulation

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • On Ceramic and a Critical Approach to Social Phenomena with Aslı Aydemir

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Aslı Aydemir is a particular artist who experimentally combines ceramic with alternative materials, endowing it with deep, sociopolitical concepts. Aydemir talked to us sincerely about her sources of inspiration and her dreams.

     

    What are your main sources of inspiration?

    The geography I live in and its social consequences, things I see, hear and that I actually don’t want to believe is real. I somehow reflect them and I cure myself with my practice. I can summarize my main topics as women, peace interests and belief systems.

     

    Ceramic art is deeply rooted in these lands. Ancient times, Mesopotamia, etc… What are your thoughts on this subject?

    The transition of ceramic from artisanal to the artistic realm doesn’t actually go that far back in history. This material with high plasticity that was considered as artisanal and industrial until mid-20th century, has become one of the most preferred media for contemporary artists.

     

    Ceramic requires very high technical proficiency. What kind of educational process have you been through?

    I graduated from Mimar Sinan University Faculty of Fine Art, Department of Ceramic and Glass Design in 2003. During and after my education period, I kept experimenting and researching techniques I was unfamiliar with, so that I could continue my relationship with the material on the correct platform. I followed the literature, and while doing that I exploited the blessings of the internet and closely examined ceramic design and artwork examples. I even mimicked some of the techniques I encountered. Thus I established a balance in my relationship with this capricious material. Ceramic continues to be my primary medium but I also use concrete, epoxy, plaster and metal. With every new material I also enjoy witnessing phases of collective production.

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    Aslı Aydemir, Eulogy Series.

    Your works are also highly critical: subjects like consumerism and devaluation of humans and labor are manifest in them. Where does your exhibition “İade-i İtibar” from last year stand in this picture?

    “İade-i itibar” offers a socio-cultural perspective on the decorative function of Chinese blue-white porcelain figures in middle class homes. I aimed at creating a nostalgic emotion, both for me and the society I live in, by re-processing them with different materials, so that the value attributed to them by those living in those homes could find a true match.

     

    The artists you regularly follow? Which authors do you read?

    Frankly, since internet entered our lives, instead of following a specific artist I try to follow all the artists and designers within my reach and scope of interest. There are many of them whom I admire. A great example would be Johnson Tsang; he always impresses me with his mastership with porcelain and the subjects he tackles. In recent years, I have been mostly reading technical articles on materials relevant for my projects; but tales and short stories are my favorite literary genre. I think tales are very useful in understanding a society.

     

    How did your path cross with Art50.net? Your thoughts on online platforms?

    I find online platforms very positive and indispensable for our daily lives, and I even want their number to increase as much as it can. They offer great advantages to the viewer both in reaching the art and the artist. I became familiar with Art50.net thanks to a friend of mine and I regularly followed its activities as I’m an active internet user.

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    Aslı Aydemir, Chinatown Series.

    Any new projects on the horizon?

    I currently have two projects that I initiated in 2017; both are related to social pressure and traumas. I can describe them as reflections my own emotional state as a female individual in this society.

     

    Your biggest dreams on your profession and the world?

    My dreams in both realms proceed on a parallel route. Living in a world with more justice and equality would let me create happier works with less criticism and would help me go back to a more peaceful psychological state. I hope that being productive in a world where we would all prosper and smile peacefully would be more joyful than our current situation.

     

    Click for the artist’s page.

  • 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.

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