We were at the playground of ‘Metalist’ with artists Büşra Kölmük, Esk Reyn, Muzaffer Tuncer, whose paths crossed over the desire to produce metal sculptures, and Bülent Çınar, who has witnessed their art practice since the first day.
Interview: Büşra Soydemir - Photos: Beyb Studio
You carry out your works in a workshop where many artists are involved. How is your operation?
Bülent Çınar: The general attitude of the workshop continues with the master-apprentice relationship; this is how I learned the job as well. Anyone who enters this place to create is a novice at first. Anyone who has no idea how to do this job solves the problem by looking at the artists who are masters in their work. It is possible to know the material, bend it, shape it according to one's own aesthetic idea, and learn to use technical equipment in detail and safely by following the masters. The master-apprentice relationship is a valuable aspect of creating metal sculptures. Since it is a handed down job in the form of teaching each other, everyone continues by adding something with what he has learned and researches on himself, without leaving the next generation incomplete as much as he has learned.
Büşra Kölmük: When you love what you do, you want someone else to do it as well. Let many people be doing this job in the market so that we can rise together. We have a very lovely rivalry between us. I try to be proficient at my job so that those who see my job can do better. Let it rise above me so that I can work for the better. We are constantly triggering each other. In doing so, we help each other even in areas we compete.
Esk Reyn: The workshop has energy beyond sharing space. When I first came here, I was drawn into the energy of the place, not the place itself. I was able to do my job better when people here taught me something, and I saw my initial willingness in those who came after me. Everyone who enters through the door has a passion for creating; they just do not know the method. I feel great sympathy when I see that energy and excitement in front of me because I have passed similar road as well. We share something else; not material, not space, much more dimensionless. When we reach the same emotional level with the individuals around us, we share an intangible situation. One of the reasons why we are so motivated to teach is to attract someone who will increase that energy in the future as support. We must pursue this energy.
What is your purpose in making time to lend a hand to someone else while building your path as an artist?
Büşra Kölmük: Someone else's success provides motivation. When one of us is included in an exhibition, receives an award, or sells a work, we celebrate together here.
Bülent Çınar: One learns better while teaching. If you need to convey information to someone, you cannot share this information without sorting it in your head. The information you have sorted is also attached with other information. After establishing a solid relationship with that information, you can share the details; you cannot just say something randomly. Once a month, we put everyone's work in the middle and open it for discussion. The owners of the sculptures try to explain the intellectual process and creating stage of their statues. Others also voice their criticisms. When things are talked about, people begin to give an account of their work. When someone creates a sculpture, he should be able to account for it. Everyone should be able to say something about what happened at the starting point, with what emotion it was made, and how the process evolved. The state of being accountable also trains the mind at this point. As we listen to each other's creations, we witness each other's world of thought.
Does working at a very close range affect how you use the material?
Muzaffer Tuncer: There are millions of metal types and metal application techniques. Since metal is such a free material, the option is a lot. Our way of production is shaped according to our spiritual situation. As soon as I entered the workshop, I grabbed a hammer and started with cold forging; cold forging means forging the metal without heating it. It was the mode of production that came close to me spiritually. After I got the hammer, I could not put it down again. I also tried other methods, such as working piece by piece; our orientations can be shaped according to the wishes of the statue.
Büşra Kölmük: Everyone's artistry is different; everyone finds his or her method.
What is your perception of originality other than the use of materials?
Muzaffer Tuncer: We call originality a consistent form of production, not repeating or using the same size. For me, the concept of originality is the artist's reflection on the essence of the works. For example, there are five versions of Arnold Böcklin's Isle of the Dead, but there is a light in despair in all versions.
Bülent Çınar: My authentic field is to put sculptures into a relationship with the audience in the public sphere. Therefore, when the material and form change, nothing is left to define me. Because I try many things, trying new forms and materials is my favorite. However, in general, my production concern is that my works somehow relate to the audience, to have a game or a surprise feature. It's the field where I seek to produce works that invite the audience and engage with them both by contact and by visuals. Since I have been concerned about bringing my sculptures into life, the perspective I lean on is evident.
"Since everyone sees where each other started and where they have evolved, we can help each other's work with ease. The work owner may get lost in the details while working; we remind each other to take a step back. Since we know each other's production styles, we can relax each other at the points where we are stuck."
Do you also receive recommendations from each other on the production of images?
Esk Reyn: My approach to my style was distinct before as well. All three of us came here with our sketches. We found our way with guidance, such as Muzaffer's drawings can be turned into sculptures by forging, and my forms can be made by cutting and adding. The basis of what is taught in the workshop is that more experienced people draw a roadmap. Since everyone sees where each other started and where they have evolved, we can help each other's work with ease. The work owner may get lost in the details while working; we remind each other to take a step back. Since we know each other's production styles, we can relax each other at the points where we are stuck.
Büşra Kölmük: Our works are not similar either; even if we were to deal with the same topic or even if we were to consider a tangible entity, the sculpture that we would all make would be very unlike. Since we know our personalities while giving ideas to each other, we provide ideas within that personality. We are going with a proposal that is not out of the artist's style and that he can also appreciate.
Bülent Çınar: We all have a sketchbook and draw something there. Whatever we have in mind, we make a note there. All of those notes are an investment, and the more experienced here will advise on whether these notes are appropriate for the language of the metal. We do this without taking a stand on the expression of the idea, without touching the main core of the concept. We don't think of spoiling it; we try to explain how to make it happen.
"After a while, the successes achieved due to a settled attitude can restrict the artist. The so-called originality can cause him to be stuck on a single point. The artist may want to stay in the area where he feels safe."
Does joining this workshop mean that artists decide to dominate their production practice over metal?
Bülent Çınar: When people start working with a material, they cannot decide whether they will enjoy it. Sometimes we try different materials. It's important to experience many things when you're at an appropriate age to try different things before having a settled attitude. After a while, the successes gained due to the settled attitude may also restrict the artist. The thing called originality can cause being stuck on a single point. Since what we call an artist is open to being fed on many topics, there is a chance for production at other points. However, having style also has such a handicap. The artist may want to stay in the area where he feels safe. This is something we have discussed a lot.
Esk Reyn: I am precisely in this handicap; I have a specific color palette and forms. Before I entered the sculpture department at school, I was doing graffiti. The main issue in graffiti is capturing the style and producing a variation on the style. Since I had such a production practice before sculpture, I built something by trying to produce with forms and colors that I found safe when I came here. The style I have captured in my sculpture practice is based on capturing originality in every new work I create in my safe space. In other words, the existence of handicaps causes me to find my identity by evolving in another direction.
How do you intellectually create a sculpture?
Büşra Kölmük: I never think in three dimensions; I am progressing by writing. First, I write the idea, presentation, or problem, and then add small lines to the outline of how I will do it. These lines are notes, simple geometries, and lines that only I can understand. I enjoy metal because it is easy to shape at the time of application. I frequently change the work during the process; the work can take me somewhere. Even mistakes can create good coincidences. In a textual sense, I do not change the idea, but I transform the image in practice.
Bülent Çınar: I make models. One of us writes, one of us draws, and one of us models. All four of us go differently.
Muzaffer Tuncer: I perform somewhat unconsciously at work. The first appearance of my sculptures comes out to me in an animalistic way. I've been doing three-dimensional modeling for a few months; I have worked with patterns before.
Esk Reyn: Muzaffer is fully expressing his mood and emotions.
Büşra Kölmük: Bülent Çınar and I are more concerned with social issues; we practice the expression of the problems that bother us.
Bülent Çınar: Esk Reyn also has an utterly abstract situation; we are at different points. Our creative motives, starting points, and paths are very different.
Esk Reyn: My production has evolved from a very motivational place to a very planned one. I interpret the city through motives; I deal with different subjects through the emotions in the town, and my main playground is the city itself. I draw graffiti styles from the texture I see in the city. I've been doing this for so long that it has become manageable for me. Now, I can control those motives and include them in production in a planned way.
How does the nature of metal guide you in your working principle?
Bülent Çınar: Metal opens the door to a two-way creation style in which you can keep going back and forth, multiply by adding, and cut back again. This is the best part of the material.
Muzaffer Tuncer: I don't have much flexibility after sketching. Before I did 3D modeling, my head was working as a 3D machine. I enter this workshop with sketches that can be sculptures. While on the pattern, I make ten different versions of a statue. I turn to whichever is more valuable to produce because I tire myself a lot while creating.
Esk Reyn: Muzaffer works as if he is fighting. My situation is entirely flexible. I bring the pattern, and halfway through, I start reinterpreting that pattern. I make a wrong move while working on the sculpture can lead to something stunning.
Where do you want your sculptures to be located in the future?
Büşra Kölmük: My wish is for my sculptures to be more oversized than they are now and to be located in a place where all people can touch them.
Muzaffer Tuncer: For example, I would like to place my sculptures on the edge of a mountain or a cliff after presenting them in a public space or a private collection. This is my furthest thought for my sculptures. Those who know that the statue is located there should go to see it, or people come across it by chance. Maybe the person who comes across it will not enjoy seeing that work there and will describe it as bad luck. My sculptures can be terrifying to people sometimes, but I also want to come into contact with it in this way.