If you see a destructed structure as you walk the streets, do you imagine the scenario of the story behind that place? It is impossible to not feel, at least to be aware of the urban transformation İstanbul is going through currently. The exhibition at Kasa Galeri “İmkansız Uzam”, on view until May 5, touches right on this hot topic. One of the artist’s of the exhibition, Hasan Pehlevan, talks to us with all his sincerity…
You were born and raised in Diyarbakır. Do you see a piece of it in your current aesthetic?
I am Silvan, born in Turkey. I spent 1/3 of my life in Diyarbakır. My interest in art began when my painting teacher discovered this during my elementary school years and guided me to enroll in Diyarbakır Fine Arts Highschool. Diyarbakır is a part of my point of view in art.
Did your interest in geometry start then?
I believed in form, and the power of form. Diyarbakır, which housed many civilizations from the Artuquids, Sumerians, and the Seljuks includes this form and drawings in it’s history. From the sweater that my mom knitted for me, to the order and forms of the rugs in the house, all lured me into a geometric mathematics. It became an inherent problem in that sense.
How did you first come to İstanbul? Did you have dreams for the big city?
I wanted to come to İstanbul for it was the center for the arts and to receive a good education. It wasn’t possible for my family to send me to İstanbul. I came to İstanbul by selling my mobile phone. I earned the trust of my parents later on after I got into Marmara Fine Arts with the help of my friends who had come before me.
I didn’t have dreams for the big city. It would be better to call it clearing the blurry lines I couldn’t see in the horizon. I would like to respond to that like this; what fed me the most was to go around, see and witness things.
How do you think your creative identity was affected upon moving to a new city, a city like İstanbul?
İstanbul is a very big city. I still go around, visit places I haven’t seen. I research the architecture on buildings, do readings on them, and on top of that, I try to create works using different disciplines. When I came to İstanbul from Diyarbakır, I met so many people from different languages and beliefs. I try to speak in a common language in communication. I still go back and forth between these two cities. It’s not in your hands to not get affected by it. I saw street art in İstanbul, and started a long journey.
The exhibition, “İmkansız Uzam,” in which your work is also included is open now in Kasa Galeri. What is the force that brings these 3 artists together here?
“İmkansız Uzam” is a collective project exhibition realized after a year of meetings by 3 friends who have known each other really well. It is an exhibition framed around the concepts of place, belonging, destruction, construction and memory that exists among mine, Deniz Aktaş’s and İhsan Oturmak’s work. We all create works under different disciplines in certain fields. We wanted to reexamine the organic collective structure of new generation artists that is like the continuation of the collective exhibitions of the 90s. In a country where destruction never ends, this exhibition takes many identities becoming a problem (such situation exists), cultural migration, and structure destruction to hand.
What does “destruction” mean to you? What are the reasons behind your focus on this issue?
I don’t think that it’s meaningful to destruct some place if we are not offering something better in return. If the previous one lost it’s efficiency there must be a more efficient structure to replace it. Unfortunately in Turkey, destruction is named as urban renewal. In a culture in which destruction is evident, the culture evolved to be fading. Did a physical transformation of a place also mean the complete transformation of it’s existent culture? From the ever changing and transforming maps to the destruction felt on your house walls, everything will mark it’s place in our memory and after a while it will be forgotten, lost in the darkness of time. In 10 years time, places like Fikirtepe, Antique City of Palmira, Sur (Diyarbakır), Sulukule or Tarlabaşı will turn into far more different places than we remember them to be. The work I do to postpone this degradation and document time somewhat consoles me. The destruction will continue on if this solace doesn’t turn into a rebellion!
What’s your view on the role of contemporary art and artists in society?
The role of the artist is still discussed. The artist is seen to have a mission to change something, to say something is wrong and correct it. I don’t agree with this. I don’t believe in the transformative power of art. I can only advocate that art has the power to point things out. And that is what I explore in my work.
What excites you beyond the gallery and the studio?
I think streets are the only thing that excite me. Everything is more clear and visible. The streets are where thousands of people pass by when walking everyday. Does a gallery and studio get better than this?