• 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 As you may know, as an artist I’m interested in pop, contemporary issues and consumed, outdated or iconic images.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 I chose to use neon lights in doing so; it represents such a consumed, outdated past.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.

  • With Eda Emirdağ On Her Artist Residency Experience in Sweden

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Eda Emirdağ has been invited to the Kultivera Artist Residency Program in Sweden for a second time.  We talked with Eda about her experience and the advantages of artist residency programs for artists.

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    What is Kultivera Artist Residency program?

    Kultivera Artist Residency program is located in a small town called Tranås in Southern Sweden in Jonkoping, founded on a completely forested area surrounded by lakes. The general aim of artist residency programs is to take you out of your ordinary circle of life, and to give you the opportunity to work in the work spaces they temporarily offer you, to allow you to establish contacts with other artists, perhaps also drawing inspiration from them and to work collectively.

     

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    This is your second time in Kultivera; how did you establish contact and what did you achieve with this program?

    I first saw their open call for five female artists from Turkey in October and made an application. As an artist I used to be interested in emotional themes but after this residency I also began to work on social issues. As a result of the 1-month residency here the exhibition ‘Alien Self Discover’ exhibition came into being ,featuring Seher Uysal, Eda Gecikmez, Gökçe Sandal and Gözde Robin, as well as my first video installation ”Memory with Flaws”, dealing with the notions of memory and identity through a migrant woman; after that I decided to produce works on social themes. But just as I began to discover this small town I had to go back. As the residency’s founder, Colm O Ciarnain, who was very helpful in Kultivera said, “this is your home; present us a project anytime you want and be our guest again”, I returned with new ideas six months later. My second time was much more efficient in terms of productivity compared to my first visit. I already knew the city, I knew what I could do there. But this time I also started working on two projects I hadn’t planned. The different experience that came out of these two works was the opportunity to work collectively with two other artists from two different countries.

     

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    Can you tell us more about these two projects?

    The first was the result of our friendship with the Irish painter and poet Jonathan Murphy, and I produced a video art piece based on the poem he wrote at the residency which I shot in those areas of  Tranås that seemed cinematographic to us. The second one, on the other hand, is a dance-film project I did as a continuation of my migration project. I shot it based on the choreography by the Syrian dancer Ghaith Saleh on running from death, who migrated to Sweden to do so.

     

    Would you be interested in reapplying to Kultivera?

    There are plenty of other residencies around the world; but if you only have 1 month the first 10 days are already  spent trying to get to know the city. In my opinion, if you stay at an artist residency you should be able to produce works by using your surroundings. Thus I think I can use my residency time more effectively by coming back to Kultivera instead of trying to know another residency from zero; but if my passion for discovering new places becomes persistent I can also visit other residencies.

     

    Kultivera again has a current open call  for Turkish artists and curators; how shall the canditates apply?

    The program invites artists and curators from Turkey and Scandinavia between October 17-November 15. Kultivera offers work space as well as covering travel and meal expenses. During this period that coincides with my first residency you may see the most spectacular autumn ever, and then you may revisit them.

     

    Click here to browse Eda’s works

     

  • Yıldırım İnce: The Story of an Artist from Car Industry to Fine Arts and His Passion for Urban Life

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Yıldırım İnce is an artist who carries the city’s soul into his canvases, giving it a new life. A fan of cars with a special bond to woswos. We had a great conversation with Yıldırım about his life story and his art.

     

    When did you begin to produce art?

    It happened after a dialogue I had with my high school painting teacher, becoming the start of an adventure following my teacher’s discovery of my ninterest in art. Another person who contributed to this adventure is my father. As he is a car painter, I spent all my spare time at his workshop and got to know the colors of those paints better, and all this gave me a desire to paint things and to become more interested in colors. Thus I tried to illustrate this interest in me with small painting experiments at the time.

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    Yıldırım İnce, Ray of Sun, oil on canvas

     

    Where does your deep passion for Woswos come from? 

    I could have worked on many other themes in my paintings but I chose the woswos, because cars were the symbol of where I grew up; they were part of my life. I spent my childhood working alongside my father and this allowed for my passion for cars to emerge. Later, when I started the art education program at Balıkesir University Faculty of Fine Arts, one of my professors had a woswos, while my entire passion for cars had evolved into an enthusiasm for woswos. My father and I took care of my professor’s car, its routine checks, paint and repair for a while. I think around a time in which people referred to it as a cute piece of metal, I established a bond with woswos with a very deep friendship and excitement. Altough I realized too late in my life that my real passion was the woswos, it now had an indispensable identity for me. I cannot spare these words for them; although known in society as a cute but problematic car, it is actually very durable; thanks to it you can become as well informed as a professional mechanic. It is a life style beyond people’s “oooh so cute” exclamations; it is indispensable, a friend, a soul, an identity, another world. It immediately adapts itself to its owner’s character. Most of them have a name. The solidarity among the owners is so moving. Woswos is a passion for its lover…

     

    Yıldırım İnce, Metropol ve İtfaife, Tuval Üzerine Yağlı Boya, 130x81cm, 2013

    Yıldırım İnce, Metropol and Fire Department, oil on canvas

     

    You describe the theme in your works as “urban mythology”. Can you explain this concept further?

    Cities are not only places for living but also areas of imagery and representation; they are areas that stimulate creativity. The moving elements in an urban context, especially people and their activities, are as importasnt as static physical spaces. Thanks to the liberties in the realm of form, everything from the past, including pictures, light accessories, any daily life object can become part of the same composition. Thus the objects reproduced in the work of art replace the real ones and build a new urban mythology. The aim here is to turn the entire city into an objet d’art and to aestheticize its life style . While doing this, all our senses are in motion and the urban mythology is the combination of all of these elements. These objectives and processes lie at the heart of Post-modernism and how it generates a philosophical departure point with a heavily architectural and urban context.

     

    And the artists from Turkey or abroad that you particularly like, follow and are curious about?

    The first that comes to my mind that I follow with a great enthusiasm is the American artist Don Eddy, one of the masters of photorealism and the artist I find closest to my own approach. Luis Perez, another photorealist artist from Spain comes second. I can also mention Kamalky Laureano from Mexico, David Earle from the U.S.A. and Manu Campa from Spain as the other atists I’m interested in following.

     

    Woswos Tatilde 25 x 25 cm Tuval Üzerine Akrilik Boya 2015

    Yıldırım İnce, Woswos on Holiday, acrylic on canvas

     

    As an artist interested in the notion of metropolis, when did you first visit Istanbul? How did the city change since then? How  is your experience of the city?

    I first came to İstanbul in 2006. Although I defined it as a metropolis, this changed as time passed. Because for me, it is a megalopolis. A metropolis in a country dominates the urban and rural settlements around itself both economically and socially, and it also establishes the country’s connection with other countries. For instance, New York is one of the world’s leading metropolises. But a megalopolis is a settlement composed by the unhealthy growth of several settlements finally becoming united, a gigantic city. For me, Istanbul is as such; its growth is unstoppable, and it connects various cities, becoming one single huge city with an unhealthy growth. Honestly, earlier I found Istanbul intimidating; but in time, I had a different bond to it. I probably had the chance to know the city better and I began to love it as I got to know it better. In my artistic journey all the roads led to Istanbul as well, I couldn’t deny it; and I decided to keep up with it.

     

    Yıldırım İnce, New York Harbor, Tuval Üzerine Yağlı Boya, 146x90cm, 2014

    Yıldırım İnce, New York Harbor, oil on canvas

    The cities you would like to visit? 

    Of course I would have liked to visit all the important ones in the world but my priority would be the American ones: Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C etc. But I particularly would like to visit New York: it has a very different place in my heart, I have a nostalgia for it. This nostalgia can be explicitly seen in my works. Except for Istanbul, of course, there has not been a city that I have visited and impressed me so far…

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    Yıldırım İnce with one of his recent artworks

    Click to visit the artist’s page.

  • A Journey with Baysan Yüksel into the Magic Stories of Our Childhood

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Baysan Yüksel is a deep, sensitive artist who cares about what is beyond the immediately visible, who is mesmerized with the immaculate creativity of childhood, and passionate about books. With Baysan we have found ourselves in a conversation that touches our souls, that enriches us, full of hope and melancholy at the same time.

    On your blog you say “I came into this world to tell stories. My mission is as simple as that but it hurts”. Why? Although you say so, your works are very colorful and contain a child-like joy. How do you explain this dilemma?

    The source of pain is to feel these stories with a high degree of empathy. Then the pain of the transfer process itself comes into the picture. If you dive into the depths of the child-like joy in my works, what I’m talking about can be understood more easily. Being a human is in itself contradictory and life is the entirety of struggling with them. Children are like this too. when we become adults, we think that children are very joyful, carefree and that they have wonderful times in their colorful inner worlds; childhood is nothing like that; its depths contain a very real wisdom of life. I still remember how I felt as a child; not that I feel the same way today, but perhaps because I can remember it, things are the way they are for me.

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    Baysan Yüksel, Scorpio, 2014

    Your works reveal your admiration for children’s paintings. What would you like to say about it? When and how did you start painting? do you ever revisit the things you painted in your childhood?

    Unfortunately, paintings from my childhood disappeared while we move; I was very upset about it as a child and I still get upset about it from time to time. There are very few paintings my family keeps; I sometimes look at them, not as often as I used to though. They seem funny; some of them are very strange from a creative point of view as well. On the other hand, I actuall started painting by accident. Since I was conscious I constantly wrote or told stories, did drawings and collages. I thought that painting was something you were supposed to learn at a training course or something, like sports or dance; but at the end of the day it was someting that I was already doing. when I was little I had these naive aspects. I had no idea about the order and the rules in the world; I thought we could learn everything. But it turned out we wanted to learn the things we had interest in and talent for. I’m particularly fond of the paintings of hildren in their pree-school years. They have minimal filters and they are incredibly talented. At school and in any form of education, when viewpoints constraining creativity and all the compulsory things come into play, even a very creative individual can be turned into nothig. What could happen if there were no contraints, I wonder!

    In the tale-like worlds you create in your art we often encounter animals. Are you interested in their mythological or symbolic meanings in literature, or are more subjective preferences at play?

    Since I was little I am deeply interested in insects, amphibia and reptiles. I spent my childhood at the campus of Uludağ University. That’s why I had a slightly different childhood and some animals had a deep impact on it. I remember having brought home owls, porcupines, snakes to feed them. We never kept them for longer than a day. Not to disrupt its natural cycle. We used to visit the bears being trained for adaptation to natural habitat. We used to watch the deer, pigs, rabbits. We always were in a world close to animals. Wherever we went there alway were animals and were not distant from people. In my mother’s and grandmother’s memories also featured human-animal relationships and adventures, it felt like magic. I also dream about certain animals like lions and wolves. Then I become interested in their archetypal meanings. While bringing all these things into the paintings, personal, symbolic, mythological and archetypcal meanings become intermingled and create a whole.

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    Baysan Yüksel, The Arrival of the Wolf, 2013

    Do you imagine a story first and then illustrate it, or do you directly start drawing and let the story write itself?

    Both can happen; the two sometimes intermingle.

    Who are the artists that influence you and interest you? How is your relationship with literature? Which poets and authors are you inspired from?

    I can find inspiration in any artistic field. I just look for spirit and sincerity. My inspirations in visual arts differ from time to time. Cy Twombly is one of the permanent ones though. This year I discovered Grayson Perry’s work and I loved it. I can say that literature is the artistic field that inspires me the most. Because I love words and their games. I love stories told with intelligence, with games. I haven’t been reading poetry for a long time. The last was Rimbaud five years ago, whom I got back to this year for an exhibition. I prefer reading fiction. Some writers’ worlds take me in; then I want to go and read all of their books immediately.Philip K. Dick, Richard Brautigan, Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Ende, Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman are the first ones I can think of. The latest Kerascoet and Fabien Vehlmann comic I read, Beautiful Darkness was incredibly inspiring in this sense. I have recently begun to discover the classics too. I used to get bored in the past; both in music and literature, I began to enjoy both. It seems my age for it has come!

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    Baysan Yüksel, The End of an Era, 2013

    If you could make the world a better place, which problem would you address first?

    This is such a hard question! I wish we all got to know ourselves first ( this is the hardest); after that, together we could solve any problem.

    Please click for the artist’s page.

  • On Art and Empathy with Erim Bikkul

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Erim Bikkul is not only a creative artist but a sensitive one. He respects nature’s harmony and the circle of life; he is also fully aware that each and every one of us has a responsibility in increasing social awareness around these issues. We embarked on a deep questioning with Erim regarding his areas of interest, his art and the future of the planet.

    How did your artistic approach change over time? Where this this change come from?

    As one’s life experience becomes rich in variety this is also reflected in what one creates. My approach towards life and art must have evolved in similar ways. This can be summarized as the disappearance of those extremely self-confident attitudes coming from naive youth while increasing technical abilities. Now there is more room in my life for surprises and the effort to discover new viewpoints.

    What would you like o say about your choice of materials?

    In my paintings I used acrylic paint for a long time. It appealed to me with its water-based and quick-dry and odourless character. I still use it in combination with spray paint and sintetic inks. Even if I used oil paint for a while I don’t think it had a contribution to my technique. Lately my two favorite techniques have been watercolor and paper cutting. I enjoy watercolor’s transparency, its simple quality and the surprises that come from its independent behavior on the paper. The negative spaces that emerge in paper cutting give me the satisfaction of working with the void, the feeling of elaborating it. Additionally, I feel like having left the absolute paper surface and entered the third dimension. I experience sweet moments of excitement thanks to this situation that allows me to use many surfaces in juxtaposition.

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    Beyin Bilir, 2013, kağıt kesme

    You manifest an authentic approach towards paper cutting/collage and the notion of void. We can also say that you make macro and micro-universal patterns overlap in your mind and combine them in your works. How is your relationship with science, especially with the sciences of nature? How do they affect your art?

    I studied math and science in high school; I maintained my interest in these subjects afterwards and I couldn’t make sense of the division between art and science. Knowledge is knowledge. If you can maintain your flexible attitude as the areas you are informed in increase in number, you can evaluate everything as a whole and look at this whole from a variety of angles. I underline once more the issue of viewpoint, because the way to keep our perceptions open and to widen our horizons is to be able to look at phenomena from multiple angles. Lack of empathy is one of the greatest problems of our era and the way to empathy lies in openness to various viewpoints. For instance, geometry is not part of art education anymore; but 100-150 years ago they could not have been thought separately. Geometry matters a lot in helping us understand the relationship between the macro and micro-universes. Mental exercise around these issues is not only useful for an artist but for everyone, whatever their specialization is. It would be great if chools didn’t present these topics in such a boring way, alienating so many people.

    Who are the most influential artists for you, from history or from present day? How about philosophers?

    When we talk about influence, I am equally interested in great masters whose names survived to this day and anonymous works that generally come from Eastern culture. Architecture, music, literature, films, and most of all, sounds, forms and structures in nature; all of these can inspire me and push me to create. Thanks to the Internet, I browse what has been done in the fields mentioned above, nearly every day. Something I find takes me to something else. Internet is a blessing, since it allows you to closely follow your favorite living artists , or even establishing friendships with them. On the other hand, I can mention Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Plato, Spinoza and Buckminster Fuller as the philosophers I am interested in.

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    Değişmesi Halinde, 2015, suluboya

    Where do you think the humanity is going? Many artists believe in dystopia while some spiritual leaders argue that we are preparing for a much more advanced level of consciousness and these are its birth cramps; which viewpoint is closer to yours? Do you think our civilization will be able to reach a more mature level respectful of nature? What is the role of the artist at this point?

    The damages done on nature are completely irrational. This is an amazing planet; I wish we could manage to live on it correctly. There is only one point that gives me relief: as I don’t attribute a special importance to humanity and human consciousness, if we go away, even if the entire biological life ends on earth, the remaining is still a flawless order. I don’t believe that humans are capable of bringing an end to all forms of biological life anyways. Because of human carelessness many plant and animal species became extinct; we lost half of the forests. But, at some point, the planet will impose its own rules on us and that process as already begun. Regarding expeditions to other planets, this situation is similar to someone staying at a hotel room, destroying it, leaving all his garbage in it and moving to another hotel. first of all, the Earth is not a hotel room; it’s our home. Second, wherever we go, we should at least leave this place behind in orderly fashion. Third, if we behave like humans there ill not be the need to go somewhere. In short, humanity needs to get out of its adolescence and assume responsibility for its actions. The role of the artist or anyone who notices the nonsense we are in is to show it to other people as well. This doesn’t have to be through messages and didactic works; it is even better that it is not. But everyone can share with others the intellectual conclusions they reach, and can spread the word to their social circles. We have no salvation other than collective awareness. Of course this is a road that demands a lot of patience. An individual must evaluate himself or herself first before trying to change others.

    How did you meet Art50.net?

    I had friends among Art50.net artists and employees; thus I had the chance to closely observe the projects being done and I became interested.

    What is your dream project?

    It would be a lot of fun to gather all the globally powrful politicians businessmen, soldiers etc. at a summer camp, releasing them from all their duties and making them work together. A bit of gardening, building walls, planting trees, a little bit of housekeeping and playing bingo and eating popcorns in the evening would be good for all of them, I guess.

  • A Journey into the Depths of Wisdom with Özgür Demirci

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    For Özgür Demirci, the process of becoming a human being begins  with respect for other creatures… We depart on an exciting journey of discovery as we dive into the depths of Demirci’s sea of creativity, who emphasizes artistic intuition and is inspired by a wide range of subjects ranging from traditional arts to mythology.


    In your works you derive inspiration from traditional Anatolian crafts and patterns. How does your creative process take place? Do you conduct research into these patterns, or is it more of an inspiration based on free association?

    I begin each work by searching for-building a new surface onto which I can paint as if on an ordinary paper. During this process I modify the paper’s texture, the surface and how it absorbs the paint. I find various types of paper with differing surfaces and I build a limited number of them. Each time I change the form of painting and the material that contains the paint I use. Consequently, my art is divided into phases/periods. I never go back. I am not interested in doing so. Once the papers I work with are extinct, an era comes to an end. I do not have the urge to adopt a stylistic genre and to proceed with it for a lifetime. I think such an attitude is against the essence of art; but today’s actors in art are anxious to market “stylism” as if it is an artistic must-do. In fact if they went back just a little and looked at the artistic geniuses, they would see they always went back and forth between various styles and always produced art interactively.

    On the other hand, my relationship with pattern and motif began in my high school years. Right after my freshman year, thanks to some teachers recently appointed to my department I received a good textile education. I could design various patterns for fabrics, tapestry and kilims, weaving them in loom templates at the workshop and could see the results. During this time I became familiar with traditional patterns. And during my college years, thanks to easier access to books and literature in this field, my interest reached an academic level. Probably as a natural consequence of this interest and accumulation I worked at a textile factory as a designer the first year I came to Istanbul. I also very carefully and attentively examined the mosaics, clothes, coins, jewelry and motifs on home accessories of ancient civilizations in museums, which must have had a great contribution to the accumulation of such a memory.

     

    orj-yaz-mutlulu_u

    Özgür Demirci, Summer Happiness

     

    Which mythologies, regions, cultures or periods inspire you the most? Anatolian poet/philosophers like Yunus Emre or Hacı Bektaş Veli are also extremely important. What place do they have in your art?

    Since I am able to understand, I feel a great interest and sympathy for the arts, languages and religions of the East, especially the countries of the Far East. China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, India… I have always been more interested in countries where Buddhism is widespread. I think Buddhists have a great respect for nature, animals and the environment, and they live more morally correct lives. Similarly, in Anatolia I am more interested in people and beliefs with the symbol of the sun in their flags or turning certain animals into symbols because they live in greater harmony with nature. The depiction of Hacı Bektaş with the lion and the gazelle on his lap, even this single picture is enough reason for me to sympathize with him, and it is a great clue on what kind of a world of ideas he has. As what inspired Buddha, what helped him reach “the absolute reality” and “perfect understanding” was Bodhi or the tree of Bo, similarly, what brought Hacı Bektaş to wisdom was a love for nature and humanity. By not distinguishing  a lion from a gentle gazelle and placing them both on his lap is an indication of his wisdom. For a human being, wisdom begins by realizing that every living thing in nature suffers, becomes angry, becomes offended at least as much as he or she does. My paintings do not depict the man in struggle with nature, they are about the thoughts and dreams of the wise men negotiating with it. In short, contemplation, intuition and coincidence are the three basic notions on which my paintings are constructed.

    Another area of my focus is the Ottoman and Uyghur miniature. The oldest and most highly qualified examples of Turkish painting belong to the Uyghur Turks. The wall paintings and various miniatures found in Uyghur city remains from the 8th and 9th centuries are from the period during which Turks believed in Buddhism and Manichaeism. The first thing apparent in these miniatures is a decent life in harmony with nature. According to Manichaeism any evil deed, such as murder, or pulling off plants or fruits from trees , prolong the captivity of divine light on earth. Moreover, Mani both wrote and illustrated Manichaeism’s holy book, Arzhang, so that the illiterate could understand it as well; and these depictions are the first examples of miniature. In this sense, the birth of art in the East and West are one and the same; both develop from the urge to illustrate holy texts for illiterate people.

    You say you do not plan your composition in advance, embracing an intuitive attitude. How did the paint behave on the hand-made papers you used in your new series some of which are on view at the Treasure Room exhibition? Were you able to predict it, or how can you predict it? Similarly, are your paints and pigments ready made or are they prepared in line with traditional methods, according to the examples of those epochs?

    What goes around comes around. All these readings and resarch processes fill me and a place in me called the subconscious as it fills a treasure room. At some point you feel the desire to evacuate this room. And everything begins right at this moment. New images demand new materials and if you cannot find them you have to invent them. I make use of traditional methods of calligraphers when making these papers. I can never predict the results; actually getting to know the material, seeing-observing how they interact and the accumulation of experience as such will gradually render it predictable. At this stage, my case takes a lot of time as a trial-error process. I usually buy my paints as ready mades and I especially prefer Chinese and Japanese products.

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    Özgür Demirci, The Juniper that Smells like Titanium, The Story of the World

    Your works embody a deep narrative urge. How do you interpret them in this framework? Shall we read each of them as a sequence of a story, or is each a single story harboring various readings?

    I never depart with the urge to illustrate a story. Anything that keeps my mind busy from time to time definitely finds a place in my canvases as a color or form, one day or another. On the other hand, these paintings I create as a series can be thought of as a story book; like a whole book containing various stories under different headings, with a clear beginning and an end, weaved around a certain idea or emotion and collected under one big title. Each painting is meaningful in itself, but also part of the puzzle. A finished and exhibited work is as far from and close to the viewer as it is far from and close to me. Me trying to explain my work is nothing more than trying to interpret it, like the viewer. Even if someone like me who emphasizes spontaneity and coincidences  begins the process with a preliminary design, the work can be finalized in a radically different way. As a result, the story is constantly rewritten throughout the process of painting. It is never possible for me to predict the end of the painting. Working with the feeling of curiosity kept alive by this mystery is another source of motivation. I deeply enjoy looking at a painting once it is finished.

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    Özgür Demirci, Cursed Black Tree

    What are the new materials you would like to experiment with, or new subject matters you would like to focus your future research on?

    I think of using a different material on canvas instead of oil paint. I have not pursued it yet. There are 8-10 papers I have to finish first, as soon as I finish them I will enter a new phase. I believe I will focus on Confucius and as he said, ” Either find a path, open a path or remove yourself from the path”.

    How did you meet Art50?

    A friend of mine had started working there. Ahe offered me to be featured in the website and we have been working together since that very day.

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