Zerrin Tekindor is a woman who beams an energetic zest for life. Her strong will and strength is greatly admired and is delightfully exasperated upon meeting her. Whether to start with Zerrin the actress or Zerrin the painter, one cannot deny that the woman who stands in front of you is down to earth and is able to see through the myriad of layers of life.

Which of your identities is more dominant nowadays? Zerrin the actress or Zerrin the painter?

Up till now, neither outweighed the other. I’ve never distinguished between any of them.

What do you think are the similarities between those two disciplines?

They are the same to me. I can’t even read plays without visualising them. I visualise that atmosphere and all the details including costume and light. I feel as if I’m in a painting while acting. I even decide on the way I sit and how I posture my body dependent on that of a painting. On the other hand, theatrical power and aesthetics are prominent in my paintings.

Zerrin Tekindor stands as an iconic character who expresses a free state of mind and who has a unique outlook on life. The women in your portraits are exemplified in this respect. Where do the stories of those women come from?

Thank you very much for your words. Actually, the starting point of those stories and women are based on myself. Everything I’ve seen, heard, read, everywhere I’ve visited… Basically everything builds up to these stories. I believe in unique in my opinion, strong and I struggle to achieve that.

The names of those women are as colourful as their looks. How do you name your works?

I usually name my works after the characters in theatre plays that I read and like. Some paintings are born with their names. When I have difficulty in naming them, I turn to the beautiful ideas of Hira.

We always see charming women in your paintings. What do you find charming in a woman?

Self-confidence, talent and kindness.

How has painting contributed to you in terms of getting to know your own body and creating your own style?

When you know how to paint the body and what colours to use, you know how to express the proportions. Therefore you can make right combinations.

Are you going to participate in Contemporary Istanbul this year as well? Will you present a work special to the fair?

Yes, I’m participating for the 7th time this year. I’m represented by Galeri Sevin again. The preparations are going on right now. I’ll try to make well-illuminated paintings again. I hope it all goes well.

“There might be a risk of being stuck in a circle and repeating yourself without education.”

We know that London is a frequent destination for you. Considering that even the smallest spaces are used/transformed in order to exhibit art there, how do you interpret that art is still limited to some particular groups and spaces in Istanbul and generally in Turkey? Do you have any advices regarding this issue?

If the theatre halls, galleries, cinemas are closed or demolished one by one, it certainly gets more and more difficult to have an art scene here like the ones they do in London or other metropolises of the world. Other governments make fifty times more effort than us in order to protect, preserve and carry art further. What a pity that we have to fight against the state for the same purposes…

You attended acting school and this was followed by a successful acting career, you then strengthened your interest in painting by attending an art school, which was also followed by various successful exhibitions. Everything seems to have flowed rather naturally one could almost say. What would you like to tell to the ones who say “education is not enough for practising art”? What has Zerrin Tekindor added to her education to achieve success?

I’m not one of those who say, “education is not that important”. There might be a risk of being stuck in a circle and repeating yourself without education. Both in painting and theatre, you can reach a point on your own and come to a deadlock. You improve yourself by trying hard, seeing and working a lot. Nevertheless, what counts most is your sincerity, your being sui generis and creative in an honest way.

You spent the last two seasons focused completely with theatre. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” was played 165 times. What’s the secret of playing the same role without underperforming. And how do you improve upon each performance?

I spent the last 30 seasons filled with theatre work without a break and not only the last two seasons. Each time you perform for a different audience. I want to readily and willingly perform my best each time because I cannot take it for granted that they already know the play.

How do you overcome the monotony of playing the same character every day?

The characters are so rich and the nature of human beings is so colourful. Every single evening you make a new discovery regarding the character you play on the stage. Then I feel sorry for not having thought about it before. The play changes and renews itself every evening. That is so exciting and it motivates you for acting.

Despite each of them being different stories and worlds, one of them certainly outweighs the other. Annette, Kleopatra, Martha… Which one is your favourite character and why?

Martha. I consider Martha one of the best-written characters in world’s history of theatre plays. It’s impossible not to be fascinated by the intelligence, sense of humour, sensitivity, madness, and love of Martha. I kept wondering what else I could do to serve her better during all that time we played the game.

Your son Hira Tekindor directed the play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Could you share your experiences about your relationship with your son as your director, surrendering to him in terms of your profession?

Of course I had some concerns at the beginning for it’s a very difficult play. I know about his knowledge and love of theatre but there was this risk of our being incompatible and my not being able to be objective due to the emotional bond between us. Despite such concerns of mine, Hira determined the limits very well; the limits between director-mother. I mean he made my job easier. I found Hira’s ideas quite fresh and different. His calmness and determination in the rehearsal process was also nice. I think he was very successful and I hope his new play “A View From the Bridge” and his next works will be very successful, as well.

We know that you said “I like meeting the role saying ‘Hello, I’m Zerrin’”. What would you say if I asked you to explain this approach for the young actors/actresses?

I recommend them not to choose characters that are close to them just because it’s easier. They should chase after different characters as much as possible. I want a role that is challenging and that makes me meet someone new within myself even if the starting point is me.

Do you have any good news for those who want to see you more on the TV screen?

There will be a TV series titled “Kara Sevda” (meaning Blind Love) on Star TV by Ay Yapım. I’ll play in that series for the new season and I hope they’ll like it.

As a last question, do you have any other current projects?

I’m designing the setting and costumes of Hira’s new play “A View From the Bridge”.