If you follow the art scene in Istanbul, you must have already met Yusuf Aygeç. Aygeç interprets classic portraits by sometimes placing 3D glasses on subjects, other times setting a lollipop in their hands. This local artist who challenges his own inner world seems like he will be around for a while. Here is how we fulfilled our curiosity.
I was born in 1989 in İstanbul. I started my bachelors in Interior Design in Eskişehir then transferred to the Painting Department at Marmara University. During my studies, I interned with some painters. I actually didn’t start painting with an idea of doing pop-art, however my work naturally evolved to that. The artists I followed, the galleries I visited, led me to this.
The year I graduated, I sent my portfolio to C.A.M Galeri. It was a place I was already following, I often went to their exhibitions. The owners of the gallery Levent and Sevil Binat saw my works and liked them. First I joined group exhibitions. In 2013, I held my first personal exhibition “B.C. Pop Art” there. Then we went to several fairs abroad including Scope, I got the chance to be familiar with the international art scene. Last year, we worked together with Furkan “Nuka” Birgün. And this year in March, I opened my second personal exhibition “Me Alone, You All!”
The title of the exhibition “Me Alone, You All!” is actually a sort of slang. It has been perceived as a challange by the art world and other artists. But in reality, it wasn’t so; what I meant by ‘you all’ was my own inner world. I went into a memory analysis. I tried to analyze what’s in my memory and what we are taught. Because how we see the world is constructed by what we are told. I think about a subject, I imagine some scene but actually I feel like that scene does not belong to me. I tried to break free of this feeling.
I mainly focused on notions such as family, belief, life, stories that are told, links between stories, being born and growing up with a father’s identity.
I went into a memory analysis. I tried to analyze what’s in my memory and what we are taught.
The exhibition was a bit dispersed with 14 works in total. I began in 2015 and continued working on the paintings until the opening. Some works were central, some developed around them. I think in order to relate the subject and the paintings, the audience should spend time in front of them. I tried to provide that.
As opposed to my new audience, I like to listen to the comments of those who have been following my works and watching how they develop. The responses I got from them were also good.
I started this by deforming my formerly beloved artists in reference to our current day. I began by asking questions like “How would Dürer paint if he was alive?” or “How would Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring be interpreted now?” But even then I didn’t set any rules for myself; I did what I felt and thought like doing. I worked in three stages. I would take an original work; for example Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Then I would paint on canvas a period between ours and Vermeer’s time. In the last stage, I would adapt it to our current day, dress her in today’s fashion. So, what I did was in a chronological order.
I first opened an atelier in Beyoğlu but I can say that I ran away from there to Beylerbeyi. I really love guests, but it’s bad for my discipline. So now I am in the quite, calm, secluded Beylerbeyi. Of course, Istanbul is in distress now, but I think this distress adds something to us. When I enter my atelier, I create works due to it. There are many nourishments in the city. Beyond everything, this is the place I was born and raised in; everywhere I go, I have memories. So I analyze these memories.
I don’t have specific hours; I wake up, have breakfast and start work. Sometimes I don’t go out of the atelier for a month. I don’t work piece by piece, I’m in flow. Painting demands a strict discipline, for example completing a painting may take 15 hours a day for 20 days. Generally you don’t see productive artists outside, they usually don’t leave their ateliers. I try to be like that too.
I got interested in sales in 2011. Maybe then it was a bit faster, now it slowed down but I think the market is going better. Fairs support this as well. The showcase part of the process feels like being at a bazaar whereas exhibitions are away to reach out to the public since they see the exhibition as an activity. This way one can convey a piece which would be seen by a thousand of people to thousands of people. Therefore, I think they are important for both the artist and the public.
Photography: Fora Norman