Bahadır draws a lot from philosophy and literature, and the curiosity he feeds is not ordinary or superficial about anything. He’s passionate about understanding and perceiving everything to the minutest detail. The sculptures (before which we ask “How do they do these?”) lead collaborations with the masters and touches today’s technology. We cannot wait to hear it all from him!
When technology meets art, how does art maintain its spirit? How do you keep a balance between the two?
Art is changing its format and is turning into an art of ideas. We’re talking about a philosophy here; I’m using the language of sculpture, the form and the requirements of the era without hesitation. All these further trigger my creativity. I’ve already been using them for years. I don’t imagine things to rotate or fly; I imagine the movement that would complement this idea and begin structuring it.
How is the relationship between your mind and the world you live in? You almost always use the word “system…”
I began to dislike people and to hate customers as I’d been working in the “industry” for a long time. To put it better, I started hating the industry managers who were serving these customers. I was very young so you can define it as being crushed by the system. I’m always associating things with the system because it, in a way, feeds me. For instance,
Van Gogh would wander around the fields in the Netherlands. But I grew up in central Istanbul, and what I see in my fields is this capitalist system. You cannot help but be affected by the pressure. Meanwhile you ask yourself “Why am I staying?” When you’re young you question things in a rebellious way but as you grow up, you start looking for more philosophical reasons and seeing things a bit clearer. I rejected this system and wanted to something else, so I took up fine arts. There was this talk back then. “You should study this department because if you study other one, you won’t earn any money after you graduate.” And I found myself back in the…
Exactly! You were expected to work for someone else. I felt like I already spent many years doing that and I wasn’t content with the place I arrived. I wouldn’t be doing anything for myself. Then I thought, if I was interested in doing modern art, then I should think carefully about it, never minding what I would gain or lose. I decided to do what would make me happy, and was hesitant about whether to pick up painting or sculpture. Finally, I thought the latter was more interesting to me. I wasn’t able to make a meaning out of everything I saw so this would teach me a lot and it’d be pleasant.
Where do you find the metaphors and stories in your works?
Sometimes it’s a book but, in short, I can say everything – my experiences, the experiences of people I know, what I see and learn every day. Sometimes, when reading a book, I can see a description or a thought that’s very similar to something in my mind. That’s when my ideas start taking a more serious shape. It makes me happy to see that I have
the same thoughts as Freud, Einstein or Plato. I don’t have specific preferences when it comes to reading about philosophy.
How is your relationship with the materials you use?
For the last four or five years, I work with materials that are in line with my ideas and concepts.
What we’re really curious about is the interaction you have with the emotion of that material.
Stones do have emotions; it’s a whole other thing and I myself don’t know the reason. I love them; it feels like meditation. I enjoy touching them; they give me energy and vision. I know that it’s more than a million years old; I revere it and abstain from harming it as I touch and shape it. I question the ways I can express my thoughts through it. These are all personal things; they’re not even artistic factors. All comes from my inner world. I do love stones. I can work on a piece of marble for three, five or six months without getting bored.
Where do you find the materials?
I visit everywhere, all industrial areas. If I’m visiting a city in Turkey, the first thing I do is to visit the industrial areas and shops there, looking for old craftsmen and stone masons. I visit junk dealers and buy a lot of materials from them. Later, I shift them, turn them around, cut them and play with them. I also love buying new materials because it teaches me a lot of new things.
Are there any artists who inspire you?
There are many things that inspire me. I sometimes delve into my bedroom. There are things that inspire me, artists and sculptures alike. Sometimes I don’t even know – or prefer not to know – who the sculptor is.
Sometimes the person in the story doesn’t matter that much, right?
Yes, it doesn’t. What matters is what I perceive, feel and live at that moment, and where it takes me.
You were doing monumental sculptures when you were living in Seravezza. It’s a concept rarely used in artistic concept in Turkey and it leads one to different places.
Monumental sculpture refers to a sculpture that marks a square to display itself. It should be in harmony with the memory of that square. In Turkey, “monumental” adds something ideological to its meaning because here monumental sculpture means ideological sculpture – such as stories of bravery. The sculptures you see in the street in Turkey aren’t hard to guess. The bust of a poet, an author or a national hero. There aren’t many contemporary sculptures that are in harmony with its surroundings. This would be one way of describing monumental sculpture. But here, it’s shortly described as sculptures in public areas. In Seravezza, I was working at a workshop, a very old and respected one across Palazzo dei Medici. There’s this very tall mountain across Seravezza where Michelangelo took his marble. So the city is known as the capital of stone and marble.
I did research on public sculptures for a long time because I enjoy doing large-scale sculptures and would very much love to be present in an area whether it’s a square, a corner or a public area which are places you can easily touch the heart of society. In that regard, Italy is very important to me. Each sculpture in every square has a meaning either theological or mythological. You can easily associate them with the current life and dynamics. The contemporary sculptures there communicate with their surroundings. Of course, people need to be well-trained in art to be able to understand that. Most of the locals there appreciate, understand and perceive its value because they grow up in it.
What do you think are the (dis)advantages of belonging somewhere when it comes to creativity?
I don’t like taking root in one place; I’m for wandering different places. I do have a workshop but I usually visit my colleagues’ workshops or travel abroad. Sometimes you find such a unique aura in a different country. For instance, I was in Mumbai in May. It was 45 degrees Celsius outside and very humid. We were working on an island. The locals earn their living through fishing. You pass by packs of shrimps as you walk towards the workshop. There are fish hanging around the island; the weather was very hot and there’s this permeating smell. You cannot seem to wake up but start working anyways. I wouldn’t be comfortable working in such a weather or atmosphere in Istanbul but in India, you feed on other things. You accept that moment and start working.
I know most of the handicaps in this land because I was born here. For instance, when I’m building an outdoor sculpture, I know why it doesn’t work because I know the system here. And you don’t want to make any compromise. But when you’re abroad, you’re a guest, a stranger; you can guess or look for other reasons for the problems you encounter. But here, you know what they are.
But, to an extent, you’re still in the system.
Because I preferred to be in the system. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be using these materials and I’d be somewhere else. No one would know my name, and I’d be spending my days on a mountain, pursuing a different life. I chose to be here. It’s a place filled with many people, good and bad. It’s important to differentiate between what’s right and wrong. There’s something I’ve learned. When you’re working with marble and want to cut a very large block, you need to dig a hole in it. That’s what the system and the art fairs mean to me. If I’m going to say something there, I need to be able to be in it. I’ll conquer it from the inside; that’s how I’ll do it.