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    The Mysterious World of Plants with Begüm Mütevellioğlu

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Begüm Mütevellioğlu is one of the earliest members of the Art50.net family. While tracing the deepest memories in her peaceful compositions, she tackles subjects like the relationship between the individual and the place as well as the construction of identity through place. In our conversation with her we examined her new series of works about plants, the latter also being one of her personal areas of interest.

    Your collaboration with Art50.net has been going on for a considerable time. What kind of contribution did it have for you? What projects did you accomplish together?

    Our collaboration with Art50.net has been going on since the year 2014. During this period, I had the opportunity to work with several very talented, creative and caring people that were part of the Art50.net team. I also had the chance to participate to some of the events they organized with a level of professionalism going beyond the scope of an online platform. Last year’s fundraising auction/ exhibition for young people with Down Syndrome for which young artists donated their works was only one example; another one was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a group show taking place at Bodrum Casa dell’Arte until July the 9th.

    How did your artistic practice evolve in the meantime?

    Of course, as individual stories, daily life situations, the society we try to exist in, the latest developments in art, new preferences and the like go through ceaseless transformation, all these unavoidably find their reflections in my practice as an individual artist. While in my earlier works I used to build my compositions with pieces of objects and places from our lives, I’m currently more interested in reflecting on specific themes and creating various projects as series.

    Nebatat Enstitüsü 1. Bölge, kağıt üzerine yağlıboya, 2017

    Nebatat Enstitüsü 1. Bölge, oil painting on paper, 2017

    One observes that in the current phase of your artistic practice the plant replaces the human figure, and detail replaces spatial composition. Can we talk about this a little bit more?

    I actually can’t say I have given up on the figure and spatial interiors altogether. The reason why I currently focus more deeply on plants and their details is both my being in a personal phase of trying to know the plants better, and my desire to present them to the viewer as I perceive them, thus giving them the opportunity of an alternative viewpoint as well. On the other hand, in my paintings in general I turn my gaze at spaces of living to explore a character or to observe a sense of belongingness. Particularly in the elements I use in my paintings of interiors, it is very likely to find highly personalized characteristics; in fact, in my opinion the places with identities can only emerge when individualities are reflected in this realm. While building new spatial compositions or capturing details from the already existing ones, I try to position certain elements from our lives in a way that makes them part of the already established environments we inhabit. At other times, the human figures, plants or objects from interior spaces that I feature in my paintings can become substitutes for each other.

    You have also embarked on alternative material experiments involving pastel and ink…

    One of my main concerns nowadays is to make sure the chemistry of the material I choose contributes to the theme I work on. I think this way the work turns into a living form not only in conceptual but also material terms, and generates a stronger narrative. I also see it as a necessary approach to keep my work dynamic and contemporary.

    What else do you do in addition to art making? You also have academic endeavours if I’m correct… How do these affect your art?

    For the last two years, I have been working as a Research Associate at Mimar Sinan University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting. I can’t overlook its positive contributions, of course; but I also have to admit it’s an important source of time and concentration problem in terms of my artistic practice. Considering this is a very new way of working for me, I think I can easily find a solution to this complexity in the days to come.

    Spider Plant and Wandering Jew, kağıt üzerine renkli kalem, 2017

    Spider Plant and Wandering Jew, colour pencil on paper, 2017

    We had a chance to view your most recent oeuvre at this year’s Mamut Art Project. What was the experience like, from the selection to the exhibition?

    This year’s Mamut Art Project featured my work titled “Resurrection Plants”. Before becoming a project, this selection proceeded as something I conducted research upon as a personal subject of interest, independent from my artistic practice. During my ongoing research involving botany, plant species and their positive and negative interactions with humans, I came across this group of plants with over 100 subspecies still inhabiting the Earth. I was already in the process of looking for new painting materials; I featured these plant species in my oeuvre as a subject matter I could perfectly combine with my material choices. Having the opportunity to exhibit these series at Mamut Art and thus witnessing the viewers’ satisfaction upon hearing the plants’ stories in addition to the artworks, made me feel sure that I made the correct choices of content, material and presentation.

    The exhibition or art event you have recently seen that had the most powerful impact on you? Why?

    I can mention Tayfun Gülnar’s “Chromophobia” at X-ist as a solo exhibition, and “Colony” and “Remote Memory” at Abud Efendi Konağı as group exhibitions. The common denominator of these three shows in terms of their impact on me has been their staggering look at the human history bringing the world to destruction and its aftermath, and their critical approach towards belief, gender, violence, capitalism, technology and human-machine relationship.

    What are the upcoming projects we are expecting from you soon? Will you be pursuing the same artistic path, or will you embark on new quests?

    I currently am and will soon be part of several group exhibitions; it’s still too early to talk about a more comprehensive or clearly defined project. During this process, I will concentrate on my academic work a bit more deeply.


    You may browse Begüm Mütevellioğlu’s works in Art50.net’s gallery space here.