The interview with Emine Ceylan has been prepared by Kontrast Magazine in 2017:
In your “Time Travel 1-2-3’ series, we see that you have re-interpreted the works of art history. Can we learn your thoughts on this subject as artistic production?
The most important thing that motivates me to start working on the time travel series is my great love for art.
Painting is one of the arts that makes me see the world more clearly.
Besides, motherhood… my daughter… my daughter’s face, her body and even her behavior was an important source of motivation for me to dive into the most sublime examples of painting, to ancient times, to the deep essence of life.
I couldn’t do this by myself or with anyone else. I wouldn’t want to do it. It wouldn’t mean anything to me. So just because it’s interesting, because it’s fashion, or because it’s old, I wouldn’t be able to reproduce and present the postmodern as “a gift package” to the world.
Art is not just work for me, but my inner state is a state of my own life. I live in the story I write. My “self” finds soul in the texture and the characters in my 71 photos. So perhaps the most important manifestation of this series is the title “My Daughter and I”. We are not the same as the ‘us’ before this long-lasting work and the ‘us’ after it. We’ve been through various stages. We also made our journey into our own art history. It was a complex and very valuable journey. In the flow of life, it was a work that contributed to the understanding of the foundation of our existence. My daughter Asiye, who I used as a model, wrote a short article for this series in my last book. I added it at the bottom because I thought it may be interesting to present her perspective.
I tried to keep the aesthetic level in this series high. At the same time, I tried to create a form of beauty of my own without breaking away from the essence of the original work.
What would you say about postmodern art which draws attention to the distinctions between production and consumption, creation and reproduction, interpretation and original work?
There’s nothing I can say about postmodern art. I don’t like the work presented. Most of them are in the I-did-it-and-that’s-it fashion. And I’m not following them anymore. Most of the interesting ideas are presented in ornate and incomprehensible texts as well.
Copying, reinterpretation should not mean underestimating the original work. I respect the creation, the original works. Especially in the face of today’s poor work, their value is growing even more.
I find it unnecessary to question the notion of being original in art. The basic artistic reference can be both ‘culture’ and ‘nature’. Isn’t art an imitation of nature? As a result, artists will always continue to design nature.
You can’t underestimate the artistic nature of a complex event. Being a part of the spiritual culture, art brings meaning to the world. Van Gogh has reproduced dozens of paintings from Millet with the same compositions, and they are all very beautiful. And it’s all new. But as Sherrie Levine did, I can’t count the art of taking photographs of old photographers from books and displaying them as a new work at exhibitions; reiterating “After Walker Evans”.
Everything can be a source of inspiration for the creation of the works of art, a thousand details within life, the divine perfection of Haydn’s cantatas, and the admiration for Rembrandt’s self-portraits close to his death, trigger a thousand impulses within us. Art is a re-interpretation in a sense. As long as these interpretations are good and true, it is not important which art movement it goes along with.
Tolstoy said, “The basic thing in art is to say something new, personal. That’s what makes you a great artist.” Let me conclude by saying that I support this view and the idealistic proposition below, which may appear to be old-fashioned.
“Art is not a reflection of reality, but rather a means of expressing an individual’s self.”
You are an artist who produces both photography and painting. Can we learn your views on the use of photography compared to the art of today?
In today’s art , photography is used everywhere. Under the name of mixed media. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the outcome is good. But I like painting as a painting only, with all its values in place, with its composition, literally as a real painting as a real work of art. In fact, I like the photographs produced in the first half of the 1900’s, the photographs of the photographers at that time, compared to today.
Is art more important or the artist?
The work of art is more important. It is impossible to see the reclusive artists of the past. I don’t respect that. The real artist struggles with his work, his work already is a reflection of himself. There’s no need for the other.
Can you tell us about your recent work? Which one outweighs the other: painting or photography? How do you describe the work you do?
Painting and photography go together. I’m working on some photo projects. I also think quite a lot about painting. New studies will shed light on topics, styles. Colors are flying in the labyrinth of my mind and floating in front of my eyes like the stars. The time will come when everything will be replaced and I will try to convey the images that have come to my mind to the canvas. I mean, I feel like a soldier preparing for war.
It’s not right to describe my own work. But maybe I can tell you this. I’m a person who likes to stop and study life without resting, trying to explain the lessons I’ve learned, the residue that remains in me, in the way I evaluate them, by keeping a little mystery in it. I always think about the content, the way it fits. I’m spending a lot of time on all this. And I’m doing it all for myself first. I owe my gratitude to the artistic endeavors that have caused me to comprehend life in depth.
Can we hear your futuristic thoughts on the future of art?
It is not easy to predict the future of art. But I believe that this mess will end and it will go back to the old time, so maybe it will return to its origins.
I am awaiting the days when junk art, which is made using all kinds of materials calling it a work of art, will be buried deep in history. A work of art speaks of the meaning of life. I think there is a need for works that will affect people’s world view, that will give them a direction to their ideals.
The world is spinning, the time is flowing. What happens ends and turns into a story, and the lines between real and imaginary are getting more and more blurred before my eyes.
I’m changing my clothes. I’m changing my hair. I’m changing my soul, my identity. My looks are changing. I’m stepping into another story. I become a story.
I see my mother. It’s like I’m in a house. She’s watching me through another window somewhere across the street. She opens and closed the curtains, she decides how she wants to follow the story. She’s looking behind a net curtain. Foggy and dim…
She chooses how she wants to see what’s going on in this house and how you should see it. It’s getting you out of a house and into another house. Maybe it makes us watch what we can’t see out through the windows. And all these separate stories freeze in frames.
This time we pass through the same experience on paper. This time unveiling the secret on permanent painted texture. We are trying to bring the same feelings to immortality as centuries ago, but in a different way. The faces are changing, but never the feeling…
I am a strange actress, a crying child, a capricious little star, a muse, and sometimes just a model that challenging; in this series, a puppet player, artist, director, photographer I tried to take on all of the roles given to me by this woman; a women who has never misplaced the role of being my ‘mom’. I bow with respect in front of her.
When I look back now, those things that once appeared to be so large become smaller and disappear between the tick and the tock of the clock.
I’m going for a time travel.
Please click here for Emine Ceylan’s portfolio.