Nihan Yardımcı Çetinkaya will be the only Turkey-based artist to take part in the 10th International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Florence, Italy this month with her two works tackling with the city and its textures.
“City and Texture” and “Stars of the City”. Those are not titles for movies or talent contests. Those are the titles of the works Nihan Yardımcı Çetinkaya, the only Turkish artist selected to participate Florence Biennale organized for the 10th time this year, will exhibit there. Nihan states “It all started when the selection committee sent me an invitation e-mail in the last April. After that, we kept in touch regarding which ones to choose among my works. The main theme of my works and my technique corresponds to the focus of this year’s biennial. I believe that it was an influential factor for their invitation. Besides, independent artists are really supported abroad.”
The effect of her success doubles since we are talking about both a biennial and a dignified city such as Florence identified with art and artists throughout the history. To be held between 17-25 October this year and host works of video, photography, painting, sculpture by artists from 60 countries, the biennial has a rather interesting theme this time: Art and the Polis, meaning art and cops. But please don’t be deceived by the appearance immediately and don’t believe in the first meaning that comes to your mind upon seeing this word play. Because the “polis” in the title is not the same “police” as you know it. Let Nihan explain it: “The theme seeming as ‘art and polis’ at first sight, it actually encourages the artists to look at the origins of the word ‘polis’, meaning ‘city’ in Greek. The fact that Florence has been ‘home’ to many masters and explorers, especially an extraordinary artist such as Michelangelo, greatly inspires me.”
Nihan chose to approach this theme through ‘texture’ and interpret it as ‘experiences metamorphosed within time’. She expresses that while she preferred figurative methods before, she likes to go with texture in the recent years. At this very point, we should add that Nihan is not only an artist. Having graduated from Bilkent University Fine Arts Faculty, the artist is also an interior architect. When we ask her where do those two careers cross or how do they go hand in hand, she replies our question as follows: “Since my mother Serap Öğün Yardımcı was also a painter, I spent time in a workshop starting from my birth. Paints and canvases were a natural part of my life. Being able to express myself and making my dreams come true is one of the most tremendous pleasures in life for me. Both my interior architect and painter sides are based on the same foundation.
You first imagine and then create, it’s the same for both. This way of living makes me happy and in my opinion, the creations by a happy person become successful. That’s why I keep on doing both of my jobs. Space Architects and Designers architecture office, directed by my husband Kaan Çetinkaya, also plays a large part in this. We work on many hotel and housing projects together.”
One of the points where her interior architect side and painter side overlap is her choice of materials to use in her works. Materials you cannot identify with painting at once such as cement, aluminum, stove paint and wood always find their way into Nihan’s paintings somehow. Followers of art and exhibitions must be familiar with her name thanks to her first solo show titled ‘Ruloylamala’, opened at the end of 2012, which achieved remarkable success. Plus the show was followed by a sequel titled ‘Ruloylamala-2’ in April, 2014.
We felt the need to remind you of those shows because they played a role in Nihan’s producing the works, which will be displayed at Florence Biennale. She says, “Three years ago, during the preparation process of my Ruloylamala-2 show, I created a series titled “City and Texture” which deals with the city itself and the textures it possesses or generates. Both of my works to be displayed at the biennial belong to that series. They came about at the end of a long process concerning my technique and choice of materials. The general style of my works is to combine materials that are hard to bring side by side, work one layer of texture on the top of another and apply the details on large surfaces. The textures in my works represent the emotions in my opinion. I convey my message to the viewer through the combination of various layers.
In the series “City and Texture”, I tackled textures Istanbul holds for centuries from an architectural point of view whereas in “Stars of the City” I used Istanbul again as a base but this time, I referred to the artists it raised. Türkan Şoray became one of those symbols.” Now there’s a bit stressful but very happy journey ahead of Çetinkaya, the one to Florence.