• 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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

  • A Journey into Rafet Arslan’s Universe of Ideas

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Rafet Arslan is an artist who constantly reads, questions and synthesizes, and who meticulously elaborates the intellectual references in his works. He builds his art on conceptual networks ranging from history to philosophy, and he tries to reach the purity of poetry in art. We invite you to a journey in Rafet Arslan’s universe of ideas and a meditation in his world of thoughts.

    We know that you draw your inspiration heavily from Post-Modern literature and that in your works you often use the tension between utopia and dystopia. Who are the leading thinkers and books that inspire you within this framework? Can we define your creative process as “artistic research”?

    “Artistic research” is an excessively technical term. For me, the artistic process is a spiritual one, with all the preceding cognitive preparation. This is why I do not see my readings as a preparation stage for a project or a field research. I think the reading/thinking process the artist initiates with the aim of establishing a connection with reality, his or her efforts to internalize that content and to try, departing from here, to understand the world with his or her own imagery, is very important. And, in my opinion, the consequences of these tendencies have a place in the process of creating aesthetic and visual forms. From this viewpoint, it is more than natural that I am interested in modern and pre-modern literature as well as the post-modern one. Specifically, post-modern literature is not something I can disregard since it tries to interpret the world of the present or the world that I was born into. Although I am inspired by a wide range of philosophical sources ranging from alchemy to Surrealism, from Frankfurt School to Science-Fiction, the influence of Baudrillard’s theories are particularly visible in my works.

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    Rafet Arslan, Geiger Counter Is Civilization

     

    We live in a land extremely rich in cultural heritage and memory but also equally difficult because of the current dynamics. How do you think this is reflected in your art?

    Especially in the last 4-5 years , it has become difficult to live, let alone to produce art in Turkey.  As a society we are going through a traumatic process dominated by violence and manipulation. Here the artist as a creative individual is not far from the sufferings and traumas of the society and, what is more, he or she internally experiences them most deeply.  Perhaps his or her difference from the man on the street emerges at this very point; he or she must bear witness to his or her own epoch, and to somehow place all this traumatic situation in his or her artistic practice. At this point the artist also has the function of finding those historical moments in that location in which brighter, more humanistic, spiritually encompassing moments that appeal to the individual’s free consciousness are present; of restoring these experiences as images into the therapeutic aspect of art. I think art has more to say during harder times. .

    Collage is a very important technique for you. It has recently become a method that artists use very often, and we may even argue that it has become one of the “fashionable” trends that appear from time to time in contemporary art “market”. But is it possible to say that all artists are able to use this method with the same level of awareness and expertise? How do you interpret this phenomenon?

    Collage and the aesthetic of montage in its generic sense is truly at the center of my artistic practice. This is not only to tell stories by cutting and pasting paper, but it can also develop as assemblages made of objects, transformed into three dimensional or moving collages. In art, collage is a form of avantgarde expression that emerged to break the constraints of the decorative and retinal taste, to create a new viewpoint that also involves the idea and the story. Unlike anything you create by grabbing a pair of scissors and a magazine , it is an aesthetic that questions, that carries in it the thought and the imagery. I can personally say the following: I have been using collage and montage techniques for the last 10 years, also aware that they are not that well undersood in our country. At this point, as someone who not only produced art but reflected, wrote, spoke and initiated research in this realm, I am happy to see the young artists approaching the aesthetic of collage and producing work in this field. However, it is probably beyond my reach to provide an answer in what sense it has become fashion or how much place it has in the “contemporary art market”.

     

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    Rafet Arslan, Moon Strike

     

    Can you describe your works featured in the “Treasure Room” exhibition?

    I prepared a small selection of my works from different periods, having reflected on the exhibition concept as well as the architecture and the historical texture of the venue, Adahan. The common denominator of these works is their relation to history, myth and fantasy. In selecting them I also considered their relationship to the space, the exhibition’s text and the supporting readings. I can say that I am personally satisfied with the exhibition and the installation I did in it.

    You state that for you, art is a way to reach pure poetry. In your opinion, who are the artists that managed to approach the “pure poetry” state as closely as possible? And why?

    At the end of the day, the art we create, the imagery we propose and the ideas at their basis are somehow related to the cultural heritage accumulated for thousands of years and that we actually call humanity. From the viewpoint of the memory of human civilization, poetry was the purest, the earliest state of art. It was the point of departure that caused the human being to question who he is, where he came from, where he is going to, what his place in the universe is, what his relation to eternity is. In ancient times, the artist was probably his clan’s shaman, healer and poet at the same time. And I probably try to reestablish this connection my ancient colleagues established with reality. And within this framework, the question of what pure poetry is, a question that ranges from the German and British Romanticists to Symbolist poets, from Surrealists to 21st century Cyberpunks and Techno-Shamans, stands at the center of my practice. I also see contemporary art production as a way to extract poetry from verses.

    Can you talk about the independent art initiatives you are part of, including “Periphery”? Do you think the developments in Turkey in this realm are positive? Or to what extent can such initiatives reach their objectives especially in terms of sustainability? What can be done to reach them?

    I and my artist colleagues have been naming Periphery as a collective rather than an initiative for a long time. Our earlier collective and independent artistic experiences were part of a process that involved Sürrealist Eylem Türkiye, Şebeke and their exhibitions, printed fanzines and publications, forums and performances. During this process we finalized certain memorable works like Yıkım 2011 and Gerçeklik Terörü. But in the last few years I do not think Periphery can be called an art collective; it is rather an art group that tries to trigger collective movements and collaboration. In a country like Turkey where collective thinking/production culture is very weak, the sustainable existence of independent art is in itself a problem. It requires plenty of patience, hard work and stubbornness. On the other hand, the thing called the “art market” can hardly recognize the contribution of independent maneuvres and their role in the direct delivery of art to the masses. I can immediately think of Amber Platform, Pasajist, Açık Stüdyo and Halka Art Project as those “sustainable” examples continuing their activities as initiatives despite everything.

    The projects you would like to realize for the future?

    First I am plannning a solo exhibition for late 2016 and I am focused on that. I think the therapeutic and cautionary role of art should come forward especially during the moments of social crisis. Now I am after new aesthetic languages and images that can address this situation without the banality of an exhibitionist attitude and without disregarding reality; I am working on it. Moreover, I want to continue on my hand-made book series I call “image book” that are very excited to produce. I want to realize my dream of creating a book about the poet Rimbaud.

    How did you meet Art50.net? How do you interpret the future of online platforms?

    The Internet has been in our life for a while now and became part of everyday life. Within the dynamics of our era I think the online ways of rendering art accessible and available for sale to greater masses are important. I follow such platforms both in Turkey and abroad. I saw Art50.net as such a platform in our country trying to do this in a correct way and we have been collaborating for a while now.

     

  • Interview with Gözde Başkent

    Gözde Başkent draws attention with her authentic style and her conceptual viewpoint emphasizing nature-human relationship. We talked to Başkent, who has recently joined us, about her artistic practice.

    In your paintings you generally depict women. How do you interpret the connection between woman and nature? Are you interested in mythology? Where do you find inspiration?
    The human beings’ distance with nature constitutes the essence of my works. I create compositions referring to the idea that everything is part of one single whole and each being is essentially made of the same material. While handling the relationship the individual establishes with his or her surroundings and concepts considered important for humanity, the figure becomes the central element in the painting. The figure I use in my paintings is a symbol I use to represent the humankind, and as the paintings’ narrator, I can relate more easily to a woman and thus these figures are usually women. The unkown and undiscovered majority of the universe, science, cultures and beliefs based on nature, natural history museums, prehistoric life/clans, abandoned places are amongst my leading subject matters.

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    You like working on wood. Does this have to do with your works’ conceptual framework?
    I work with wood and canvas but compared to the canvas, wood offers an alternative working space; it can direct the painting. The tree’s texture, its life, its flaws become part of the painting. It also requires an attitude different from canvas as material. It allows for less freedom but it is very suitable for detailed work.
    We may argue that some of your works have sculptural characteristics. Do you like sculpture? Do you want to create any?
    I am always open to experimenting with different materials and I love sculpture as a viewer; but sculpture is another discipline and I think you need to reach a certain level of mastery to create works of that kind. Installations in my most recent exhibition were important for me in terms of experiencing working with 3 dimensional works. Trying new materials allows me approach the subject from a new angle. I think I will keep on creating works of similar nature.

    In what ways did you benefit from your Bologna experience?
    I went there during my graduate studies via Erasmus Program. My M.F.A. thesis was on the relationship between contemporary painting and illustration. Although its painting workshops were not as fruitful, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna is a school with extensive opportunities in illustration and print. Here I had the chance to take illustration courses, which was something I couldn’t do at my own school. Receiving criticism and portfolio evaluation from various instructors with different approaches during this period had an impact on my later work. In addition, Italy has a very important place in art history.  Bunun dışında İtalya sanat tarihi içinde çok önemli bir yere sahip. The opportunity to see many museums and seminal artworks is in itself a benefit.

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    Who are your favorite artists from Turkey and the world?

    I try to follow many artists; it is hard for me to name a few. I particularly enjoy looking at the works of artists affiliated with pop-surrealism, street art and illustration.

    From an art-historical perspective,which historical period would you have chosen to live in if you had the chance?

    Circa between 1450 and 1550, in Italy or the Netherlands.

    How did you meet Art50?

    It was one of the channels through which I followed the art scene. From the artists’ viewpoint, it is a great source of motivation that the artworks reach their audiences. I am pleased to have found the opportunity for collaboration.

    Click to visit the artist’s page.

  • Emre Meydan Interview

    Emre Meydan is an artist working in a variety of media. He deeply enjoys making the viewer face him/herself in unknown places. He asked him about the artistic motivation behind his attitude and how he approaches different media.
    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü
    How did you become interested in humanless indoor and outdoor landscapes? Does your interest in deserted places have a special meaning?
    Nearly all of my works up to now have consisted of humanless paintings. I can basically correlate this to two main purposes: the first is to avoid the narrative that originates from the figure’s inclusion in the painting. In fact once we see a figure in a painting, we begin to empathize with him/her: we focus on what he or she is doing or thinking there. I am well aware that the figure’s presence renders painting more interesting for many people and facilitates their emotional connection to it, but still I want to maintain a distance with that kind of narrative. My second purpose, on the other hand, is to make sure the viewer feels lonely in the depicted place. To make sure that figure is the actual person participating to the painting instead of being an observer.
    In addition to painting you use materials like thread and fabric that are more often associated with manual labor and female artists. How was the idea born?
     
    Some people think there is an agenda and a purpose behind my use of thread and fabric. But in my works I don’t try to give a message. For me, every material I use is my paintings is only important as an instrument. At first I used threads as aulixiary lines to correctly position the composition on the canvas; the threads that I streatched on the canvas while painting became loose and intertwined as I proceeded. From this viewpoint thread functions as a marker illşustrating the painting’s first planning stage and its progress/history. On the other hand, I am also interested in it as a linear element in contrast with the painting’s character with large color fields. In my later work I began to stretch pieces of fabric in various ways on the canvas to augment the feeling of depth. My latest works took this another step further, with the threads extending outside the frame onto the wall surface and building a dialogue with the exhibition space.

    Emre Meydan, 2015

    You are an artist working with other media as well, including photography, video and music. Can one argue that you associate yourself with interdisciplinary practices? Are you involved in collective projects and collaborations with other artists? Do you find collective practices fruitful?
    Yes, I enjoy working with different materials and techniques. I try to combine my works from different disciplines when I get the chance. I also did some artist collaborations. Particularly my professor in Bremen encouraged us to do so. In addition, a friend of mine and I have a music project titled “resfacta” for amny years now. I think working with others is an enjoyable process, it pushes you to try new things and makes you more open minded.
    Which discipline among these matters to you the most? Or do you define such a hierarchy?
    For me a hierarchy doesn’t exist.I enjoy working with all of them. Sometimes I emphasize one over the others, and later the situartion changes again. And as a natural consequence of my formal education in painting and the fact that I participated to many exhibitions with it, people generally define me as a”painter” and this is why they expect me to participate to new exhibitiğons with painting again. It is also the reason why I dedicate most of my time to painting. But as I get the chance I also exhibit my works in other disciplines.
    You reside in Germany and completed part of your formal education there. How did this experience influence you?
    As I started school here I realized how freely and fearlesslystudent were able to create works. At first I was creating more timid and conservative works with the anxiety to “do well”, and since I came here I have been trying to overcome this, to be braver, to try experimentations with more liberty. Our professor at school was also of great help in it.

    Who are the artists and musicians in Turkey and abroad that you follow regularly? Which deceased artist would you have liked to meet and converse with if you could?

    Choosing a few names out of the list of the artists that influence me is always very difficult for me. Because in every artist I encounter I may find interesting and impressive elements. I find it more fulfilling to discover new artists rather than following the work of some seminal artists.

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    Emre Meydan, 2015

  • On Paper, Drawing and Storytelling with Melike Kılıç

    On Paper, Drawing and Storytelling with Melike Kılıç
    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Melike Kılıç is a true storyteller. Using the tree and the forest, the two unforgetable elements of our childhood imagery, she builds new stories. Taking a promenade in the magical worlds of her drawn and paper-cut characters is like walking around in a 3D book. We took a colorful journey with Melike Kılıç into her rich world of imagitation.
    IY: How did your artistic adventure begin? Did you use to create art when you were a child?
    MK: When I was a child I was a great daydreamer. I used to build walls, plates, many things with clay. My talent for drawing was discovered very early on. I was constantly told to never stop painting.

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    Melike Kılıç, Neverland

    IY: You received part of your artistic education in Vienna. How did this experience affect your art? How did it guide you?
    MK: I have always loved departures. I went to Vienna just out of the curiosity for this experience as a journey. And both the city itself and my school took me to another level. I began to srite short stories in its trains. In a country whose language I did not speak, there was only me and my inner voice. So many stories and tales were pouring out of me that for a long time I stopped painting and kept writing. From this perspective Vienna was great for me and it also made me a bit more peaceful.
    IY: In your works you tend to tell stories. What sources do you draw your inspiration from?
    MK: Every medium that contains language is actually about storytelling. My definition of me, on the other hand, is about me being a shaman, a healer, a taleteller and a dreamwalker. Poetry, literature, fairy tales, cinema and all the beauties in the world inspire me.

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    Melike Kılıç, No Country

    IY: It is often told that children’s tales actually do not target children, and their original versions are filled with metaphores that are much more violent. What would you say about this? What kind of traces can we find in your stories?
    MK: My mother’s tales were never intended for children. If my drawing has a dark side to it, I have always thought this was due to my mother’s tales. She taught me at an early age that the world was turned into a dark place by humans. There is a hopeful waiting in my works, yes, but a darkness trying to devour this hope is dominant.
    IY: Why do you use the tree and the forest so often? What does it mean to you?
    MK: Trees are like the most vital word in a story to me. I build a story out of all the trees. A big forest, a big world. I’m extremely fond of nature; the human being belongs to nature. Urbanization and concrete invasion are not things that I like and I use the tree and forest themes as a rebellion. And all the rebels, all the ones opposing the existing system go back to the forest. A state of poetic narrative and epic transformation. I express the feeling of wondrousness most naturally and lyrically with a forest. Actually what I do is rather building narratives, promising people new places and new dream forests where they would love to be. Each tree I cut out from paper and give shape to, is to make you dream with your eyes open and to turn you into a dreamwalker.
    IY: Let us also briefly talk about your drawings. What do you use as materials? Do you particularly prefer any brands or products?
    MK: I enjoy using many of Faber-Castell’s products. In terms of drawing, the precision and fluidity of the green series in addition to the trouble-free nature of the technical drawing pens make me very happy. I also enjoy using the various products in the Pitt series. I particularly like the fact that they allow for a more precise and multilayered painting with watercolor brush tips. I have been recently experiencing them.

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    Melike Kılıç, Laundry City

    IY: Do you write stories or poems? Do you ever depart from texts when building the stories in your works?
    MK: Stories always kept flowing. Then I began to write poems, being poetic is something I really care about. The humanity losing its poetry is like the loss of speech. That place I create is a big fairy tale, a story and the poetry itself, in all its entirety.
    IY: Any artists you like and follow, in Turkey or abroad?
    MK: There are many but in the recent months the artists that impressed me the most has been Adrian Villar Rojas with his “The Most Beautiful of All Mothers” installation in Prince’s Islands.
    IY: When did you start working with Art50? How did it affect your career?
    MK: A year ago, with Marcus Graf’s recommendation. I believe it creates long term visibility.
    IY: Which exhibitions did you take part of with Art50?
    MK: “Up in the Air” and “Stories Untold”.
    IY: What are your biggest dreams about yourself, your profession and your life?
    MK: Presenting my multidisciplinary narratives and atmospheres to many people’s perception, as a whole. Works that appeal to all senses, that combine my poems and my fairy tales. Doing big installations, huge, threedimensional, in which people can walk. My biggest dream is cinema, making short films, and of course travelling the world for inspiration and experience.

    Click to see Melike Kılıç’s artist page on Art50.net.

  • Icons in Lightboxes

    Meet the works by Ayna!

    Departing from popular quotes and icons, Ayna uses the graffiti and paste-up techniques, also including the lightbox and the neon in his works. In addition to Istanbul, he installs his works in various cities in Lebanon, Germany, Australia and Pakistan, aiming at making the viewers see these reflections in their own lives as well. Here is his interview with İpek Yeğinsü, published on sanatonline.net. Have a great read!

    In your works you use characters from popular culture. Does the current agenda dictate your selections or are they individuals that you particularly admire and find interesting?

    The agenda changes very often in Turkey. My selections are based on the current agenda but I don’t include every popular person in my selection. It’s easy to become famous. On the other hand, I pick people who are in the hearts of masses, with a place in society. Using their images and taking their strong expressions and sentences I reflect them with the appropriate typography. Their approach is sometimes positive and in other times sarcastic. I usually try to approach things from a humorous point of view because it is easy to find the negative, while it is harder to express through the positive, and I try to do the latter.

     

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    Graffiti and street art in Turkey made a giant leap in recent years. What do you think about it?

    It actually made a giant leap in the entire world. When you look at its history it’s a phenomenon that started with the signature of a postman in New York, and it was not even been seen as art at first. In time it became a field that appeared in auctions and changing the course of art history. This will even go further, it already made a peak with Banksy’s documentary. By the way I believe there is a very serious PR agency behind Banksy, I think they have created him like creating a superhero. I can sense this as an insider. Frankly, street art is very open to manipulation and misinformation. My works were vandalized in Kadıköy with a cross put on them, but this makes the works stronger. Because a reaction emerges and creates a dialogue.

    How did you meet Art50.net? How is its impact on your career?

    I met them thanks to Marcus Graf while I was in Australia. He’s a very important person, a mentor. He brought us together. Once I examined the website I noticed they were doing very successful projects, and I liked the team. I think it will continue to be so because there is a great team.

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