Lately we have been hearing his name quite often. Active in creative fields ranging from art to design, from writing to photography, Ahmet Rüstem Ekici talks to us about his artistic adventure that currently continues at Art50.net.
How and when did your interest in art emerge? How did you decide to pursue an art direction and set design career in television? What have you learnt throughout this process?
I became aware of my talent for design and drawing at a very young age and I pursued it through various training courses. My close relations with all disciplines at Bilkent University Faculty of Fine Arts as well as courses in stage and set design for television pushed me into the television industry, alienating me from Interior Architecture, i.e. my original profession. Television studio and set design are intertwined with a wide range of disciplines. Carpentry, metalworking, lighting design and various materials are all involved in the business. As a TV setting is produced for the camera at least as much as for the human eye, the result is an illusion with an appearance for the naked eye and another one for the camera. Thus having photography training is also quite important. Throughout this process, I developed my skills in generating illusion and creating dramatic landscapes through lighting design. My knowledge of materials allows me to pick the right ones for my works, in line with their thematic contents, and these are usually ready-made objects. I also learnt a lot about 3D drawings since I proceed with them through the entire production process.
Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, Us Series No:3
How about your main concepts and subjects of interest?
As an individual living in an urban canter, what I witness on a daily basis offers me plenty of scenes. My identity as an element in these scenes as well as my entire community referred to as the other, constitute the basis of my artistic practice; I am mainly interested in gender, family, relationships, our existential struggle and the city with its speedy transformation. At a park where I take a promenade or in an urban transformation process that I have a chance to observe, I find many clues about the individual’s struggle for survival, his or her privacy and differences, and this allows me to continuously create new works. On the other hand, my architectural education background pushes me to create works that are mostly three-dimensional and spatial; In terms of artistic language, I feel closest to site-specific installations and digital works.
Artists and designers that inspire you? Your thoughts on the nature of the relationship between art and design?
Art and design are the two parts of one single entity that shall never be separated. Both serve each other and they take shape together. Their only difference lies in their existential purpose and conceptual vocabulary depending on the specific context. Thanks to the developments in fashion, show business technologies and interfaces in new media artworks, the new century has already shown us that these two instruments move on together. With his stage designs, landscapes and images, Gottfried Helnwein is one of the most inspiring artists for me. Since I am interested in street art, I also enthusiastically follow JR and particularly his large-scale projects. I deeply admire Marcel Wanders and how he relates to the space as a designer. Şahin Kaygun’s Polaroid works are one of my biggest sources of inspiration.
Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, Us Series No:2
Can you tell us more about the conceptual basis and technical characteristics of your series on Art50.net?
For Art50.net, I prepared two series titled We and Us respectively. I first built a field with the 3D program interface that I regard as an infinite universe endowed upon me, and I approached this field as a stage. I created the “Us” series completely out of digital drawings, which was structured like a storyboard with three frames narrating the story of a couple wanting to get married and unified. I leave the interpretation of this LGBTI+ themed story and of its narrative structure to the audience. Whereas in “We” series, I first took the photographs of the stage that I produced as a model, and then modified them in digital environment. Like “Us”, this work offers the viewer a series of landscapes that compose a storyline. In my stage designs, I always have to build a setting in line with the existing screenplay; in my artistic productions, on the other hand, my setting and my narrative work together to build a whole and these stories gain authenticity with each viewer’s personal experiences.
Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, We Series No:2
The project/installation you would love to do if you had infinite resources?
Digital drawing provides me with endless material and spatial resources. I can navigate 360 degrees in my 3D drawing field and this constantly makes me question my touch with reality. Digital drawing also allows me to create any lighting or setting I need without budget restrictions. I wish I could produce all those 3D drawings in real life and scale as site-specific installations instead of sharing on Instagram. I wish I could make people forget reality even a little bit through a large-scale installation that would leave its mark on the city.
The place in the world you would love to visit the most?
I am an art traveller with serious potential. I am interested in visiting geographically or architecturally gigantic sites where one can see his presence and his physical body as a minuscule entity. I have been able to visit 12 countries so far but since my childhood, my biggest dream was to visit Capetown; and it has come true. The world is impressive and filled with beautiful things that are able to distract us from our daily problems. I hope I get the chance to experience all of them before they become extinct.
How did your paths cross with Art50.net? What are your thoughts on online platforms?
I have been actively writing an art and travel blog in the last 3 years. This writing adventure also extended to several magazines. My purpose in creating a blog was to support art as much as I could. As an online platform that I admired, I also promoted Art50.net’s projects, and wanted to be part of this family as an artist. I find online art platforms necessary since they can reach the buyer more easily. Although most of the art market’s activity takes place in Istanbul, we should keep in mind that contemporary art followers exist in other Turkish cities too.
Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, Us Series No:1
And how about your upcoming projects?
I’m preparing for my solo exhibition. I’m preparing this series on women, the body and the relationship between women and architecture. They will be produced with architectural drawing software and based on various buildings and building elements.
Click for the artist’s page.