On “Art Affect” with Selma Aygün
Selma Aygün is one of the most colorful and multidimensional characters of our art world… She is both an artist and a collector. She was trained in architecture and sociology, and she became interested in fashion and decoration. She successfully continues her career in the Board of Directors of The Painting and Sculpture Museum Association. We had a pleasant conversation with Aygün about her “art affect” in her own words.
You often refer to the impact of your educational background in architecture on your paintings. How would you exactly describe this impact?
Architectural education is not confined to a training in arts and architecture but can be said to include nearly all practices of life, rendering awareness of the experiences compulsory. You already take the Foundation Course and Basic Design classes in your first years as required courses. Basic art education features experiences combining many essential elements like perspective, math, geometry, scaling, color, space, forefront and background with human-space relationships. This is obviously reflected in a panting’s creation process. I was very lucky in this respect because Altan Gürman, a valuable figure we lost at a young age was my professor. As we all know he is one of the first and most prominent figures in Turkish contemporary art. I wish he lived longer and we could witness more of his creations. Although in my paintings naturalistic elements generally meet brush gestures and coincidental structures leading to abstraction, the basic relationships I mentioned are always valid.
What kinds of works are you interested in as a collector? Is there a theme, period or technique you are particularly prone to?
I prefer calling it “Art Affect” instead of Collectorship.I didn’t begin the process with the objective of always collecting works able to talk to each other and under a common title. Because with the passage of time artistic trends and media change as well and build new platforms. My criteria are neither too strict. First of all I am excited by authentic works I haven’t seen the similars of. I particularly try not to miss the occasions to see structural and gigantic installations reminiscent of architecture, which trigger change in the viewer vis big, conceptual, optic illusions. On the other hand, as a period I find the western Modern era very valuable. In the process leading to the Contemporary Art after Cezanne there were some very important artistic leaps, groups were born. I also find Contemporary Art very exciting because it offers the viewer an endless range of experimental possibilities via shocking, ironic statements, variety of media, digital possibilities and manipulations, making the viewer mentally question the very notion of art. I am very curious about the greater acceleration these experiences will have in the future and the new trajectory of art.
The artists you like in Turkey and in the world, and the publications and art fairs you follow?
There are many artists in the global reralm, I particularly find Anselm Kiefer’s strong works very impressive. Albert Oehlen,Wolfgang Tillmans, Darren Almond, Vik Muniz, Maurizio Cattelan. Frank Stella’s gigantic works always impress me as well. His retrospective at the Whitney Museum of New York is on until February 7. There are also very important names from our own realm. Mehmet Güleryüz is very strong both with his artistic equipage and his practice. I feel lucky to have been his student for a time period. Abdurrahman Öztoprak is an important name in geometric abstract. Kemal Önsoy and Canan Tolon from the generation that followed. I can also mention Altan Gürman, Canan Beykal, Füsun Onur, Serhat Kiraz, Ayşe Erkmen and Sarkis as artists who took the contemporary artistic risks and were very important in the passage into our times. In the recent decade there have been many important artists who made a great progress and worked without compromising their coherence and work pace; but these lines are not enough for mentioning them all. On the other hand I follow the art news via websites like Artnet News, Artnet Auctions and Artsy. I make use of magazines like Art Investor, Art&Business and Canvas as well as the books I bring from abroad.I attend Art Basel and Frieze London. I went to Art 15 London this year. I also went to Art Chicago once. Although it was a contemporary art fair it had interesting architecture events and it was a very pleasant experience. In Europe, America, Far East, and even some Latin American countries there are numerous art fairs. Their qualities are of course questionable. In Turkey the biennial and Contemporary Istanbul are especially important. CI who will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year accomplishes a very important thing with the synergy it creates in an environment like ours, with a debatable interest and support in art. Well done.
How does your identity as an artist affect your selections as a collector, in your opinion? How do you evaluate the collectors’ information level and their selection methods in our country? Your experience matters a lot since you occupy both roles.
They always coexisted. In my selections I emphasize the works that make me enamoured, that I would have never thought of experiencing. Other times I experience contemporaneity. I witnessed that a work I planned to experience was already realized by another artist in another country. Sometimes there are coincidences, different artists create very similar works. In our country contemporary art collecting does not have a long history. Collectorship can’t happen without passion, and what is done without this genuine desire is temporary as a fashion, a quest for prestige, a trend. “Passion” is indispensable for a collector. And then financial possibilities, of course. But the solely market-based acquisitions and the perception of the artwork purely as an investment tool deceives people. It is obviously always desirable that the artwork’s value increases, but it should not be the departure point. A collector has to have, first of all, conducted research into many factors including the artist, the gallery and the continuity of the creative practice. There are so many online publications, information is easily accessible. You may find out about many things like which works by which artist entered which collection from which auction at which price. This is also like a game and very entertaining.
We know that you also work with the Panting and Sculpture Museum. What will be the museum’s vision and projects from now on?
Painting and Sculpture Museums Association (RHMD) has a history of 35 years. It still offers courses including Painting, Sculpture and Philosophy at its center in Maçka. Every year it organizes a selection and sales of editions to support young artists and to generate funding. This motivates young artists. Additionally depending on the request there are basic art education courses for preparing students for the art academy. In the days to come we want to organize art trips to make art enthusiasts view the museum and gallery exhibitions and meet the artists.
In recent years in Turkey there has been a huge increase in interest in contemporary art and young artists. How do you reach young artists as a collector? Any favorites?
Yes, the artist-collector encounter is really very important. Generally some art initiatives provide a right and useful platform for it. For instance Art50’s efforts in this realm are interesting. It supports the promotion of many young artists via events it organizes either online or in a variety of venues. Congratulations. I sometimes visit the online sites like Art50 to make some discoveries. Mamut is also growing in importance every year.
Can you inform us about the recent projects you have been working on? Will we see you in exhibitions in the near future?
I still study Sculpture at RHMD, at Zeynep Kösem’s workshop. Three-dimensional experience adds a different excitement. The production is very dynamic from construction to casting. I have to admit that sculpture is acquiring a continuity in my practice and I want to share it with the public in the nearest future.
First piece you acquired: A work by Mustafa Aslıer in 1980.
The piece you would like to own the most: All installations of Jaume Plensa’s “Together” exhibition at San Giorgo Maggire in Venice.
The type of art that intrigues you: Ancient, Classical sculpture blows my mind. I can’t help admiring the mastery in reflecting the drapery onto the marble.
The meaning of art for you: A crucial phenomenon making life worth living, giving excitement and joy. It will always exist independent from conditions.