“I want the elements I expose to remain ambiguous and in between. In the same way, I float between different cultures. The viewer too should be in this state of in-between when looking at my work, feeling both uncomfortable and seduced at the same time.”
Interview by: Kitty Bew
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you study?
I was born in Istanbul but my family moved around a lot. We lived in Chicago for a few years before moving back to Turkey, I graduated from an art-focused high school in France.
Having completed my BA and first MA in Visual Communication at Creapole ESDI Paris, I worked as a graphic designer for a while but my desire to become a full-time painter was always present.
The following year, I attended courses at the Art Student’s League in New York, met American artist Pat Lipsky and became her studio assistant. A couple of years later, I became an assistant to Bruce Dorfman. Both artists had a huge influence on my life and work.
After moving to London, and graduating from the Royal College of Art in Painting, I’m now working from my studio in Bermondsey.
Your paintings seem to consist of heavily layered surfaces of paint, and densely wrought surfaces. Is gesture and accumulation a fundamental part of your process?
The building of layers and the intentionality in each gesture is integral to my process. Through layers of paint and changing composition, I represent ambiguous spaces and moments belonging to my memories.
Each layer is made up of different narratives, each one juxtaposing the other until the surface becomes an archaeological ground the viewer must uncover.
I am interested in identifying these memories by offering a structure, it helps me to work out their derivative. I continue to construct and deconstruct the surface until it can no longer shift and becomes compact.
I am not necessarily trying to make thick paintings by incorporating multiple layers, but the process makes them go through these transformations which gives the surface character. Once the surface is ready to work with, I can then begin to make more deliberate gestures.
Your work seems to be about establishing a balance between the smaller, individual elements in your painting, and the piece seen as a whole. Is there an intuitive aspect to finding this balance, and your process in general?
From a young age, I was forced to communicate with people when I didn't speak their language. I remember obsessively observing people’s gestures and body language instead.
My first awareness of differences between cultures was through realizing that my gestures and habits were different from others. I deliberately conserved these gestures in order to keep my roots alive in each country I called home.
Consequently, these gestures impacted my work and have naturally affected my process. One example of this is the way I would set a table. Placing each element carefully on the table, deliberately. Expecting for the whole to find a balance as the elements add up and create a satisfying visual harmony.
Thinking, ‘What is the final touch that finishes this table?’
Do you see your paintings as referential, or do you make an effort to transcend the familiar?
Familiarity is useful, recognizing the familiar helps me bring in elements of contrast. As the painting builds, I start deciding whether to keep or hide each reference by eliminating those that seem too obvious.
I want the elements I expose to remain ambiguous and in between. In the same way, I float between different cultures. The viewer too should be in this state of in-between when looking at my work, feeling both uncomfortable and seduced at the same time.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day / studio routine? What is your studio like?
My studio is in an industrial building with lots of space and natural light.
I haven’t settled completely, the unpacked boxes remind me of my nomadic life.
I start my day in the studio by clearing everything away and creating a relaxing ambience with soft music and coffee. I observe the painting I’m working on for a while and imagine different versions in my head.
Once I’m motivated, I work without breaks until I am happy with what I have accomplished. I’m usually exhausted by the end of the day, especially if I’m working on larger scale paintings.
There are days when I don’t feel like going to the studio. In this case, I like making smaller pieces at home, the outcome is more intimate.
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
Recently, I went to see Forrest Bess at Modern Art in London. The small-scale paintings stood alone powerfully. I loved the warped old wooden frames in relation to the work. The show made me question scale in relation to painting once again.
I had no idea about his gender the whole time I was visiting and preferred not to find out. I read about his life after I saw the show, his idea was to recreate a new and unique human shape, which would unify the male and female sexes within a biologically male body.
I think he succeeded, after all, the paintings were gender-neutral and flawless.
Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
I had my first group show in Turkey in October. It was exciting to be showing work out of context and to have feedback from people from my own culture.
I am preparing for a solo show at the same gallery Versus Art Project in Istanbul for the Spring with a completely new body of work.
Otherwise, I am always discussing with friends from the RCA about possible group shows which will likely be realized last minute.
All images are courtesy of the artist
Date of publication: 21/01/19