Transformation of Nostalgic Pop Icons...
Interview: Melike Bayık
First of all, as a young artist, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in 1991 in Ankara. After studying at the Ankara Anatolian Fine Arts High School, I graduated from Yeditepe University’s Plastic Arts, and Fashion and Textile Design departments. I am currently studying toward my master’s degree at the Yeditepe University Department of Plastic Arts. I also continue to work as a research assistant at the Department of Fashion and Textile Design.
What are the subjects and techniques you usually prefer in your paintings? Why painting?
The fundamental subjects that I explore and would like to draw attention to in my paintings are women and the female identity. There isn’t a specific technique that I limit myself to; rather I use all kinds of techniques and materials that can benefit the work I do at that moment. Bold and casual brush strokes, although close to the classic and yet so expressive, make up the common language of all my work, but there is no special effort for it.
What other techniques do you use in the production process of your works, and what other disciplines do you prefer? Some of the other disciplines of photography, video or plastic arts...
Textile is my other major so it is always intertwined with my paintings. Video and photography are the most dominant among the other disciplines I prefer. We could say there are influences of different disciplines. The education I received in different branches are combined with other techniques or disciplines in my paintings.
So, what is your connection to these old women’s portraits you have mentioned? Why these women? And who are these women?
Advertisements feeding on the female identity, edits, sales and marketing... Bodies that gain and lose weight according to the society’s expectations... Being a woman is difficult, and living as a woman is very difficult... I believe that as women age, they tend to drift away from this ridiculous system and somewhat return to their essence, becoming stronger. These portraits started with my maternal and paternal grandmothers, then my path crossed with a group called Advanced Style. They shot exclusive photos and sent them to me, and for some time we worked together.
What or who is Advanced Style? You continued the series with the photos they sent but how did you first meet them? What was initial their reaction when you mentioned the project?
This is a group that photographer and writer Ari Seth Cohen established. This group consists mostly of former top models and designers. We found each other via social media. They liked my paintings, I liked their photographs and within a short time we started joint works. When I presented the project, they immediately started sending photos. And they used my paintings in their posters and publicity materials.
Some of the colors you use as you paint old women in the series are quite pop. How do you make your color choices?
Pop artists took everyday objects and daily life as their subjects, bringing popular culture more to the forefront. The combination of commercial images made pop art one of the most recognizable styles of modern art. Similarly, I make use of the colors’ power to evoke. Aging has never served popular culture, and it was unable to find any place for itself in the capital system other than anti-aging creams and cosmetics. The body that survives the claws of capitalism is liberated as it ages. I think pop colors are the best colors to reflect this situation.
In addition to old women’s portraits, you also paint self-portraits. Why self-portraits?
Every year I paint a self-portrait to observe how I have changed, and spend some alone time to enjoy the way I age.
You said you painted your self-portraits in addition to aged bodies. Do you see any connection with them other than that you are all women? Do you feel like you are slowly acquiring that capital’s push you mentioned as you aged?
We get messages and we are steered about what and how we are supposed to be, on social media, in the street, at home, in short everywhere. Either we will bow down to this pressure or we will be liberated in each new age as that capital system washes its hands off us and our bodies as we get older. I am hoping to be liberated. I am currently at the most suitable age for that capital system and such steering. The pressure and messages vary according to the social order in which we live, and, of course, I feel them too.
Finally, considering the famous stars, diva models and your self-portraits, are there new projects or new series that you are currently working? What is in store for your followers?
We are still in contact with Advanced Style. There is also a new series, Old is The New Black that I recently started working on based on our own society and the culture we live in.
Many thanks for the chat, Bike. I am very excited for the new series!