A Journey through the East and the West, the Old and the New with Ece Gauer
Ece Gauer is a strong character who regards difficulties as an opportunity for creativity, and obstacles as a source of motivation. Gauer has recently joined Art50.net and we had a conversation with her about her life oscillating between Europe and Turkey, as well as the effects of this experience on her artistic practice.
You graduated from a French high school and went to Germany; you participated to several exhibitions in France. How did the Turkish-French-German triangle emerge?
Once I graduated from French High School Saint Joseph, I had a short attempt at studying cinema-photography in Lyon; but I came back and continued my education in Istanbul. As I had been painting since my early childhood with the passion within me, artistic creations began to regularly emerge while I studied Fashion Design and Marketing at LaSalle Academy… So much so that I designed a costume inspired by one of Fahrelnissa Zeid’s paintings as my graduation project. No matter what I did, I couldn’t find professional satisfaction anywhere else; painting was much more than a hobby for me. I was successfully accepted to Mimar Sinan University with a last moment preparation and I graduated as a Valedictorian. Then I continued my education in Munich Fine Arts Academy. I won the 1st prize at a mosaic competition in Latvia and then I did several exhibitions in Munich and other places in Germany. The latest exhibitions in Paris, on the other hand, were organized as part of an EU project.
Your lifestyle extending to various geographic contexts certainly has a profound effect on your art and this duality is a source of inspiration for you. This must have had both positive and negative sides to it. How do you experience being an artist both in Europe and in Turkey? What are the pros and cons of each?
I think during my education in Turkey we were always trained under a European influence, i.e. in terms ofline, color, subject, stain and composition. Once I went to Germany, my world went upside down. We had an eccentric, tough, unpopular professor. If I surrendered to my ego and changed my workshop to avoid him, I was going to have chosen the easy path and rejected change and progress. And he was the one who opened the first door into my self-questioning and pursuit of my culture, my authentic language.
Your education seems to have turned into an interesting adventure in its own right…
In the eyes of a German artist, fashion is obviously different from cinema; thus I had to work much harder, conduct more intense research and express myself more clearly. Eventually, what didn’t kill me made me stronger and gave me new horizons. Painting ceased to be a goal and became an instrument for finding the truth and finding myself. In my opinion, I owe to my education in Istanbul the technique of how I’m supposed to use this instrument, whereas I owe my intellectual education to my experience abroad, and I can say I’m still in motion. As a Turkish woman and mother, your effort has to be a hundred times greater if you want to become an artist. And you first have to believe and persevere, of course.
You were trained in several areas including painting and mosaic. How did all these areas you familiarized yourself with affect your artistic practice?
They are only instruments. My choice of materials depends on availabilities and requirements for each project. For example, I find glass and ceramic very comforting and they express me better with installations. The outcome of a glass-ceramic installation I did in an exhibition in Munich was very satisfying. You need to use alternative materials from time to time; missing the canvas is also good for you.
Your works contain an amalgam of references to a variety of historical periods and cultures. How do research, planning and intuition, coincidence interact in your practice? Can you tell us more about your conceptual approach?
I went back to the roots, to the past and began to question who we were. People who see my paintings abroad keep saying things like “where are you from; this is very different; it has both an Eastern and a Western feeling to it”. Indeed, I am likewise; it wasn’t appropriate to create something that I wasn’t. Painting has its must-have elements; composition, color, form, lines, and these are universal rules but beyond them, it’s up to the painter’s world to really build content. I’m influenced by what I read, my philosophy of life, my surroundings. And everything I draw inspiration from comes from these lands, from this culture; if I painted like a European, that garment wouldn’t fit me; but of course, there are also things that I’m influenced by in the West.
Artists you admire?
Burçin Erdi is an artist whose character and paintings I admire simultaneously. I can mention Neo Rauch, Anselm Kiefer, Marina Abramovic and Jean Marc Bustamante. Bustamante was also one of the professors at ADBK Munich.
How did you come across Art50.net? Your thoughts on online art platforms?
I heard about it from an artist, a friend of mine and have been following it and appreciating it since. I think online art platforms will become more mainstream. And artists will achieve greater visibility and reach a broader audience through them.
Your upcoming projects?
I will have an exhibition in Munich in June. On the other hand, I have a solo show in Tegernsee due late August.
Click for the artist’s page.