In Conversation with Ahmet Özcan
What kind of experiences have you been through finding yourself in the world of contemporary art?
I continued to expand my research areas in order to make more extensive projects and develop my art practice that I had started in school. After graduation, I have kept in touch with my connections with the school due to my career as an academician. Maintaining my life as an artist and an academician is restricting in terms of managing my time, but it strength me financially and enable me to expand my research topics. I go after establishing new relations to exhibit my works in different spaces and in different countries. Starting out as an amateur in the art world after finishing school, I used to hope that someday I’ll get discovered. However, it doesn’t work that way. Later, I’ve became more aware of the importance of networking, establishing new relations, introducing myself to people and presenting genuine works in a consistent way to my audience.
How did studying graphic design shape your artistic practice?
Graphic design has a broad content. You don’t just sit in front of a computer and create design solutions by the book. It’s possible to create unique designs by using mixed techniques such as drawing, painting through use of various materials or print styles. I had the opportunity to work together with people who studied in different disciplines in art, creating works in different mediums. Through these different experiences and encounters, the range of the materials that I use in my works became varied and I started to create different stories and contents. Sharing ideas makes a significant impact in every discipline of art.
Can you describe your art practice in three words?
Surrealist, Creatures, Fears.
Is there any recurring theme/question in your practice?
The horror movies that I had watched as a child affected me a lot.
They used to turn into nightmares during my sleep.
I kept watching movies consisting of monsters, devils and surrealistic creatures and wondering why they were highly inspiring me. In time, I’ve started to question the underlying reason why I was scared and attracted to them at the same time. The framework of my research has expanded into mythology, psychology and philosophy besides art.
Accumulated knowledge that is ‘collective subconscious’ was the underlying reason of my interest in these creatures. Instead of defining the scary, surreal creatures in my works with common names I preferred to name them as “creatures”.
Do you create works in other medium besides drawings and paintings?
When I had started drawing 10 years ago, I created works in different disciplines. I was keen on the nature of different materials. Currently I draw and write simultaneously. Now and then I write stories to my drawings and take notes of what they mean to me. I also like to capture the momentary states, objects and illusions of light and shadow in photography.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by various figures from different disciplines of art. Cinema, comics, music and horror stories inspire me a lot by triggering me to create new things. I especially like the ones in realistic and minimalist styles.
I like the masterpieces of directors such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Lars Von Trier, S. Craig Zahler, Coen Brothers. In poetry, I like Charles Bukowski.
I choose to listen songs that go along with my creative process. In comics, I like independent books that consist experimental essays, and different style in terms of subject and drawing. In general, I like all kinds of works that are able to tell something new and inspire me.
As an artist, I always admire Van Gogh’s work discipline and his tenacity to create new things. Even though it is still uncertain that he was creating by himself or not, I adore the paintings and monsters of the ‘mysterious master’; Mehmed Siyahkalem. I also admire the works of Japanese Ukiyo-e artist; Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
Which cities have you lived in before? And how did it affect your art practice?
Through the process of creating a work, an artist faces with his past. My current state of mind or mindscape while creating a work has an effect on my works rather than the place I live or work. Things that I have witnessed, the land and the time period I’m living in inspire me and lead me to create new ideas in my works.
It’s also important to experience different realities and ignore external factors.
What is your motto in life?
Making sure that the process of making continues in discipline. I consider it both as a mission and a lifestyle.
Do you have a studio that you work in? How is your studio life?
I transformed a small room in my house into a studio. I usually create my works in this room. I mostly work on paper so a small room is enough for me to work as long as I am happy and peaceful there.
What are the subjects that you are currently working on or doing research about? Can you talk about some future projects that excites you?
I am working on matters such as fears and archetypes that are the main subjects of my practice. I have an upcoming exhibition project. Also, I am working on the subject of Ukoyio-e’s surreal creatures for my dissertation for proficiency in art.
For future, I want to create projects that provide unity with space and artworks, which are supported with my writings.
Recently, we have established an art collective with two of my fellow artist friends. We plan to create long lasting local and international projects. I keep in touch with artists, academicians, people working museums, galleries and look forward to collaborations with them my thesis and research works.