Artist Interview - Turkish Artist Gizem Saka
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Gizem Saka - turkish artists Gizem Saka

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the painting is for itself and it's a nice shield to protect you from the world and from the people."
Gizem Saka

Contemporary Turkish Painter Contemporary Turkish Painter

gizem saka - Artist interview

Gizem Saka - November 2004

1 ::: Why are you an artist Gizem?

Art makes me free. After I started painting, I realized that I have never been truly free before. I am always constrained by the society, at school, during work, during social relations. Everything else is restrictive and imprisoning, while painting is like nice clean air so that you can breathe freely.

+2 ::: Could you tell us some more about your paintings?

I like to distort the shapes. I use a lot of colors. The best times are when I can save and buy a very nice color, and then I get so excited about using that color that the whole painting would include that color in some sort of mixture. I draw the shapes and you can see what is going on in the painting, but to me the most important side of it is the use of color. I also like to repaint a canvas. I have a lot of fun, because I can see things differently. For example, the other day, I decided to cover up a canvas that had tea glasses. I turned the canvas upside down and I saw a big nose, so the tea glass in the previous painting became a nose for the next painting. I absolutely love it. I guess what I can say about my painting is that I am experimenting a lot with shapes and colors.

+3 ::: Turkey is very rich in culture and history, does this influence your art at all?

I have a painting called Istanbul Houses. And a painting in which a girl is dreaming of Istanbul. The culture influences me because there has been all the tile painting, with wonderful blues and whites, and the miniatures, which require so much effort. I want to paint so many things that are related to the Turkish culture. For example, I want to paint the coffee mug. In Turkey, people drink lots of coffee, and after they finish drinking, they turn the mug upside down. Then they try to 'read' the different images that appear inside the mug. It's a lot of fun, and some people tell you long stories just by looking into these images. I want to paint the images so that the old wise neighbor can look at my painting and tell me my future.

+4 ::: What artists have influenced you, and how?

I really like Cezanne, and I like Matisse, because they feel very warm to me, as if I know them. These days I'm also very much into Giacommetti. I actually saw in a dream that I was in the 'City Square' with all of his people.

+5 ::: What do you do for fun (besides painting)?

I read. I like fiction but nowadays I read biographies. I have just read the biography of Dora Maar (by James Lord), of Simone de Beauvoir(by Deirdre Bair) and of Edward Said (an autobiography). All were excellent. I also go and see a lot of movies. I live in a town in which there is a wonderful non-profit movie theater that shows movies from all over the world.

+6 ::: What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

So far, things haven't gotten tough for me. I am very free while painting, actually I painted for a very long time without showing them to anybody, which I think let me grow in this freedom and now it is very established. After a couple weeks of making a painting, I get bored of it and I more often than not cover my paintings. But I find this a liberating experience as well. A very close friend of mine calls it 'creative destruction' --which I hope it is.

+7 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

I haven't tried to handle this side so far, I am just starting. I know it's hard, I hope it doesn't take the pleasure away.

+8 ::: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I am hoping to be in a studio that has a view of the Bosphorus, in Istanbul.

+9 ::: Could you talk about your latest series of paintings and what you are trying to achieve with them?

My latest paintings are mainly inspired by my daily activities. In a rainy day, I paint a woman with an umbrella. If I'm not in the mood to do anything, I paint a woman sitting and thinking. I am just representing my emotions through the paintings.

+10 ::: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

I am an artist who is just starting out and I don't have much advice to give. It seems to me like there will be a lot of rejections, and sometimes people won't even be interested in what you are doing to spend the time to reject them. But at the end of the day, the painting is for itself and it's a nice shield to protect you from the world and from the people. I would suggest that the artist should go and paint more, the more disappointing the outside world.

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