EXHIBITION

Gelenekten Esinlenilmiş

EXHIBITION
Gelenekten Esinlenilmiş

Suzan Kahraman

Suzan is a 2012 graduate of Koç University Art History and Archaeology MA program. The reason she studied here was her deep interest in Ottoman history and art. It was an interdisciplinary program offered with a full scholarship on merit. Her thesis focus was on museum audiences and she did the first and the only extensive museum audience research in Turkey named Visitors of Art Museum: A Comparative Study of the Pera Museum in İstanbul and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

For this study she worked for 3 months in Pera Museum and did an International internship program in Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. There she had the chance to meet with an international art community, learn in detail about Modern Art and live in Venice.

Upon graduation she had the chance to work for the a museum project in Kayseri with a a leading NY based museum design and consulting company Ralph Appelbaum Associates and Emre Arolat Architects. She was the Exhibition Content Consultant and worked closely with the local curatorial team and the foreign design team. The exhibition design was about the democracy history of Turkey especially after 1950.

Her professional career continued as a headhunter in technology but she have always had interest in art and this aspect of her life continued as a student and artist in mosaics and Turkish Ceramics (Çini) in the Caferağa Medrese, operated by TKHV, a Turkish foundation serving the traditional Turkish Art scene. Her pieces were sometimes exhibited and she puts her artistic work in the IG account @1cmkupmozaik. In parallel pursuing her interest in art she continuers to work on projects as a freelance curator and art consultant.

She is a graduate of ITU Mathematics Engineering, holds a MSc in Engineering & Technology Management from Boğaziçi University and an MA in Art History from Koç University. Suzan Kahraman was born in Shumen, Bulgaria and is currently living in İstanbul, Turkey.

Gelenekten Esinlenilmiş

It is necessary to initiate concrete approaches in order to adapt our traditional art of tilemaking to the demands of the present day, to acknowledge the value of this art and to be able to improve and carry it into the future.

Which demands could tiles and the traditional tilemaking technique meet regarding the local and global environment and the people living today?

Since repeating existing tile patterns purely for decorative purposes and producing tiles in forms that have no practical use today might not be enough to create a demand and to establish the value of tiles to carry them into the future. In order for tiles to be valued and for them to survive, they should be treated in the context of the universal ceramic art of today – rooted in trade routes, such as the Silk Road in earlier times, and in history – and they should be reintroduced much more into daily use.

One of the approaches that could be utilised to allow the survival of Turkish tile art (Çini) is to highlight the meditative effect that the patterns and the traditional technique have on people. The circular, geometrical and cyclical patterns have the power to create a sense of epiphany or enlightenment in spaces where, with a blue colour palette, these non-figurative patterns and repetitions observed in Islamic arts cover the walls all the way to the ceiling. Unsurprisingly, the places where these tiles were used in the past were mosques and palaces that were attempted to be likened to heaven. Thus, they were used in order to create a spatial effect. A viable approach could be to use these in the interior architecture of spaces and homes.

Besides, making traditional tile drawings is an excellent method for disengaging from the chaos of everyday life, for slowing down and being alone with oneself. Drawing tile patterns is considered slow art. The traditional technique of tilemaking requires slowing down mentally and being in a state of flux. In this sense, it is possible to talk about a certain kind of tile therapy, which might become more common.

For a classical art style to be deemed classical or traditional, such as the İznik style in Anatolia, the blue-and-whites of China, the Majolica ceramics of Italy, or the Delft ceramics of the Netherlands, it must have received the seal of approval of time, honoured with individual or collective appreciation, and be sustainable. However, for a traditional craft to survive, it must continue to improve and innovate, be it in technique, colour, motif composition or form, taking into account contemporary tastes and requirements while preserving its spirit or essence. Another significant aspect for the survival and development of a traditional art is the interdisciplinary interaction between different types of art, which allows the generation of original expressions, new meanings and the freedom of innovation in techniques.

Instead of repeating copies of the timeless classic Turkish tile art patterns, the approach of producing new patterns with compositions that would appeal to different and contemporary preferences might be adopted. In doing this, it might be necessary to bend or deliberately break some of the classical rules, without becoming kitsch. Especially artists working in an interdisciplinary fashion can produce quite good examples of this kind. Today, much like its reflections in society, there are rather sharp lines that separate contemporary art and traditional art. Art academies and institutions of education that follow a traditional art education practice do not offer enough freedom to their students and expect their products to adhere to certain models in terms of pattern, form, composition, and colour. However, given enough room, young students, especially young interdisciplinary artists coming from different branches of art, who are more brave in trying new methods and approaches, could produce artworks that are more free and innovative, allowing the creation of artworks that can cater for contemporary tastes. In order for this art form to continue to develop and survive, and for this immense reserve of knowledge to be passed on to future generations, it must be brought up to date and injected with new life while maintaining its essential qualities to be able to appeal to contemporary dispositions, and on occasion, it might be necessary to “intentionally” break some of its rules, if that would yield successful outcomes.

The fact that the Turkish tile as an art bears the label of being completely handmade makes it rather valuable. The value of handmade artefacts lies in the amount of labour invested in producing them; every piece is unique and sometimes imperfect, and they are valuable because of their imperfections. Just like in the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, or in the kintsugi ceramics, broken and later mended with a golden glue, even these defective pieces are valuable since they can tell the story of having had a life, of transience, and of being flawed. Therefore, the fact that an artefact is considered art is closely connected to the meaning we attribute to it. And to be able to attribute meaning one has to read more, study more, learn more about history, travel and live more. For instance, this meaning might be about the stylish presentation of dishes and foods, reflecting local and traditional values, and about Turkish culture and identity. These artefacts might be reflections of us, of Istanbul, of our past, and of Turkish cuisine.

Some people consider Turkish tile art to be a traditional and Islamic art. The West also regards Turkish tiles as Islamic art, mainly because they are non-figurative. In fact, there is no conclusive argument regarding this matter. There are also a number of examples with figurative decorations; like the human figures and animal motifs in Seljuk art and the figurative depictions on Kütahya tiles. In our society, the traditional and the contemporary appear to be at opposite extremes. However, it is possible to synthesize this art form and make it appealing to the present-day preferences. At the present time, İznik tiles and the blue-and-white porcelains have developed in a particular historical context and became classics that are still popular in terms of style. This means they have a timeless quality and a value that will endure for evermore. But today, there is little point in repeating the traditional, making copies of what has already been done. One can reinterpret that classic in a way that would appeal to the present-day tastes, or perhaps create something else that could be a classic in today’s context.

The artists selected for the Inspired by Tradition exhibition adapt traditional Turkish tiles to the present day, while at the same time paving the way for a relationality between the contemporary and the traditional, through emphasizing a contemporaneity founded on tradition.

Aysel Güneş, who describes herself as a new generation tilemaker, makes collages with commemorative photographs and traditional tile patterns, and merges these together with a technique she has invented. In the half plate series of the artist, while one half of the plate has traditional and ornate patterns, the other half consists of a minimalistic colour field. Beyond the apparent contrast between these two halves, the plates draw attention to a continuity on this single plane, and at the same time, they inspire an awareness in the viewer, concerning the antagonistic conflict.

Can Gökçe, who is also an academic, utilises traditional techniques and motifs in his works. As the artist moves beyond the traditional and the classical, he holds on to using traditional colours, and conveys his technical experience in this way. He also incorporates different cultures’ methods of producing ceramic wares into his designs. He reworks traditional patterns. The rose pattern that he had adapted to become the skirt of a ballerina is one of the examples where this approach is visible. He has also introduced present-day themes such as the Gezi events onto his plates. Additionally, in a collaboration with fashion designer Başak Cankeş, he has contributed to the creation of the concept of “wearable art” that had traditional tile patterns. In this way, tile patterns ended up becoming a fashion trend today.

Emel Gemici is a tile pattern designer and an academic in the Department of Traditional Turkish Arts at Mimar Sinan University. Although her stance is somewhat closer to the classical, she does not copy any classical patterns, and she produces her tiles by always reinterpreting the motifs and compositions while preserving the essence of the traditional. However, in the less ornate patterns she produces to appeal to contemporary preferences, she creates modern artworks with contemporary figures or works in black and white.

Describing himself, Kaan Baltacı says, “I am a ceramic artist, but in essence I am a designer. [I create] Sometimes costumes, sometimes Turkish tiles, sometimes film, even song lyrics”. He was part of the restoration team at the Topkapı Palace and he worked in the costume department of the TV series, The Magnificent Century. Having participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions, Kaan Baltacı continues to work at his workshop, Atelier Kabal in Bodrum. Inspired by the most important architectural structures of our history, such as the Topkapı Palace and Hagia Sophia, the young artist adapts the art, the stories and the icons of that age to the present day.

By using various other materials such as plexiglas, aluminium and metal as secondary elements in his works, Baltacı synthesizes the concepts of ‘traditional and contemporary’ into ceramic art. According to Kaan, “The most beautiful tulips are already drawn, the most beautiful clouds already painted. All that is left for us to do is to adapt that beauty to this age and present it to the modern world.” The artist’s choice was to go back to the beginning of the Ottoman art of tilemaking and by merging two different techniques used in ceramics, adapting the ‘blue-and-white period’ to the present day. In his interdisciplinary artworks of kaftans with tiles, he shares this historical process with the viewers.

With the contemporary stories inspired by tradition, with new forms and reinterpreted motifs, this exhibition focuses on the artworks of artists who reconfigure and give new meanings to this art form, who generate new areas of use or develop and carry this wealth of knowledge into the future by producing contemporary works.

Artists & Works

KAAN BALTACI

6 Winged

Ceramic

2014

KAAN BALTACI

TALISMANIC

Underglazed Turkish Tile Ceramic

110 x70 cm

2012

EMEL GEMİCİ

HARMONY

Underglazed Turkish Tile Ceramic

2020

EMEL GEMİCİ

DROP

Underglazed Turkish Tile Ceramic

2020

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

BIGG BOSS

BIGG BOSS

Underglazed Ceramic & Digital Print

33x39 cm

2021

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

UNTITLED

Underglazed Ceramic & Digital Print

33x39 cm

2019

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Underglazed Ceramic & Digital Print

33x39 cm

2019

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

THE KISMET

Underglazed Ceramic & Digital Print

33x39 cm

2019

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

HALF PLATE 1

Underglazed Ceramic

32 cm

2021

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

HALF PLATE 2

Underglazed Ceramic

32 cm

2021

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

HALF PLATE 3

Underglazed Ceramic

32 cm

2021

AYSEL GÜNEŞ

HALF PLATE 4

Underglazed Ceramic

32 cm

2021

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