Q. The work began as a series of photographs, correct?
A. Yes I was walking along the Bosphorus one morning back in 2007. It was a windy winter day and the waves were hitting the sea walls up to four or five metres high. It was quite a site. Luckily I had my camera with me and took some shots. Some of which turned out well – almost Pollockesque in the detail of the waves.
Q. Your work often treads the line between the real and the abstract, so I’m sure you were pleased with the result.
A. Yes, especially when enlarged the works became quite painterly. The medium I use is Diasec printing for my photographs which gives the work an almost 3-dimensional quality.
Q. Then some six years later you revisited the series but this time as oils on canvas. Can you explain what led you to this?
A. Yes. I was sitting in my psychiatrist’s office one day, as you do. And I had absolutely no energy. I couldn’t say a thing. My psychiatrist told me that many of his patient’s had been equally lethargic that day and he explained that it was because of the southwest wind called the Lodos. I found it such a strange concept that the wind could affect one emotionally – of course we know that grey weather and lack of sunlight can depress people, but the idea of the wind affecting one was something new. I did some research on Google and found out that indeed it was the case. Lodos brings with it particles of dust and debris from North Africa and it is these foreign particles that affect one. Much like pollen can bring on hayfever I guess.
Q. And this insight into the nature of the wind inspired your new series?
A. Yes. I wanted to create something starting from the original photographs but somehow more emotional, more abstract, more organic, more open to interpretation.
Q. So why did you choose the medium of oil on canvas?
A. I like the medium because it gives the work a certain seriousness – like the paintings by the old masters. It is also a very flexible medium. You can use it like watercolor or paste and the results are often unexpected as the paint mixes with the oils and solvents.
Q. Yes, some parts of the paintings seem quite happenstance. What percentage of the work would you say is design or chance?
A. It’s probably 50/50. I know where I want the colors to go and I know what kind of results to expect from the mixing of the paint itself with the oils and solvents. But the end result is always something unexpected – often in a positive way.
Q. All this movement, the waves, the emotional layers of the paints seems very personal. Tell me about this and also its connection to the city, as of course the Lodos is quite specific to Istanbul.
A. Yes I mentioned earlier that the work was inspired by a visit to my psychiatrist, so there is that aspect of madness or dissonance from society that would lead one to such a place in the first place. Also the Lodos is Istanbul’s wild natural side that can even close down the city when the ferries can’t operate. So for me its part of Istanbul schizophrenic nature that I have talked about before – but this time the duality between city and nature, rather than the other human dualities of the city like the difference between rich and poor, secularism and religion, city and country.
Q. Your works are generally dealing with the themes of the city in a very political, ambiguous, one could say almost cynical way, but in the Lodos series you seem to be trying to channel this energy into the language of art. I’m referring specifically to your decision to name each of the photographs and paintings in the series after the many names one of the great Japanese artists Hokusai. Maybe for a chaotic city like Istanbul, Lodos is the only way to understand this wild energy and multiple identities.
A. It’s hard not to look at an artpiece of a powerful wave and not to be reminded of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa. While reading up about him, I found out that over his life he used over 30 different names – over 30 different artistic identities. This multiplicity of identity seemed to be a perfect metaphor for the madness and power of Lodos and for the madness and energy of a city like Istanbul itself.
Q. There’s something about the work that reminds me of the Turkish custom of fortune telling with coffee grounds. Was this part of your intent?
A. It wasn’t part of my intent, but several people have pointed this out to me and it’s one of those positive unexpected results one gets with the medium. I looked it up on Wikipedia and the correct term is tasseomancy. A beautiful word if ever there was one!
Q. After you made the oil paintings, the work didn’t end there?
A. No. I liked certain parts of the pieces so much that I took a series of photographs of them. These then became part of the Lodos series as Diasec prints like the original photographs.
Q. So in some way the whole process came full circle – re-iterative, almost fractal-like in its self-reference.
A. Yes. I liked the idea of the work coming back to its original source through a cycle of development. There is something quite natural about it – like the cycle of the seasons. The same seasons which bring the Lodos in the first place. The same seasons which bring people and cities to certain points in their lives and identities.