Turkish artist on his creative journey as actor, teacher

Apr 17, 2018, 07:47 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Leading Turkish artist speaks about his creative process as his debut exhibition opens in Mumbai

Artworks by Mehmet Guleryuz
Artworks by Mehmet Guleryuz

"I am a representative, a child, a product, of the 1968 generation. I am a witness and a participant, a reactionary and an activist who was shaped by and responded to the changing social and political climate of my times. I have always seen every aspect of that which surrounds us as political, and I have always felt duty-bound to respond to these things as an artist," says Mehmet Güleryüz about the impact of the political climate of Turkey on his creative process. Evident through the fervent strokes seen in his artworks, the 80-year-old artist, one of the biggest names to emerge from the contemporary art scene of the country, has indeed responded to the many changes that have simmered around him over his 55-year career. The artist speaks about his creative journey as an actor, teacher and an artist, with the opening of his first show in the city, On The Road.

Mehmet Guleryuz

How has theatre affected your style of art?
My talent and gift for painting in parallel to that of my love of the fine arts as a whole forced me to take a leap into my simultaneous passion of theatre. You could say that I learned painting in the theatre. The problems that I had in reaction to the classic way in which the arts were taught forced me to make a choice to leave the field of fine arts studies and pursue an education/career in the performing arts. As a result of studying acting studio methodologies and our "emotion works", it also offered the scope where even though one was bound within the guidelines of the script, there was the opportunity to rediscover a new aspect. This gave me the invaluable opportunity to return to painting with my own methodology and vision, to understand what it was that I needed to do in painting. My very nature was open to improvisation, and to a sort of action painting that was in harmony with this sort of an expression and what I could call the foundation stone of my art.

Representation pic

How would you like to reiterate the importance of drawing to upcoming artists?
The act of drawing is open to everyone. It doesn't differentiate nor does it reject or exclude anyone. Everyone can, essentially, draw. The person who is responsible for that line, who can understand that when s/he draws, s/he only gains the identity of a painter after his or her decision to become a master of it.

Could you tell us about the paintings in this exhibition?
Although this is a selection from a different period of time covering over 40 years, it does not cover all processes. It contains only partial information of a very long journey. But at its core, it is always predominantly weighted in the human condition.

Has your journey to India inspired you in any way so far?
For anyone who cannot directly or intimately connect with it, India could be considered tera-incognita. It could be said to contain the unknown, but that which must definitively be discovered and experienced and learned from. Just imagine what this means for an artist, for someone like me. This is an experience which I am relishing and enjoying very much.

Till: April 24
At: Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda
From: April 26 to May 30
At: Jamaat, Colaba
Call: 22820718

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