A chat with Goksu Gul, who opened her first solo exhibition Free of Charge at BLOK Artspace in March.
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Göksu Gül’s work is inspired by beauty of nature in all its minuscule wonders – beauty that is free of charge.
Going a bit deeper into her work, there are autobiographical elements. Before the opening of her first solo exhibition, we talked further with Göksu about the caricatures, free beauty and MR imaging.
ink on paper 35 x 50
People mostly know you from the stories in Uykusuz Magazine as well as various group exhibitions. Free of charge is your first solo exhibition to include mixed technique works. With only few days to the opening, how do you feel?
In the past, having a solo exhibition was a dream to me. I just wanted it. But I wasn’t doing enough about this. The moment I started changing my priorities, it started to happen. It almost feels like, “Good girl!” to me.
ink on canvas 90 x 180
The name of the exhibition Free of charge represents your different points of view on art and refers to a hidden message. Tell us why you picked this name.
As a person who truly believes that “everything has its price”, I had become this person who curses every time she pays her phone bill. For the sake of saving just a penny more, I’ve fallen for this person who never gives or never has the chance to give. I am not trying to say we ought to share all we have with others, not at all... But I’ve learned that one who does not give cannot receive in the hard way. During one of those hard moments, I was struck by a terrific sky view. Everything has a price or what? But this one in front of me doesn’t! My existence was free of charge!
Measuring the value of art is a messy subject for me as well. I mean, how does it work? How do you determine it? On one hand, there is someone who produces, makes effort, and therefore should be able to get paid for this effort; on the other hand there is the dominant class almost across the entire market. I know this is a complicated subject, but as someone who creates, what is your opinion?
Being a child of civil servants, I had a hard time adopting the appealing impulses of sophistication in me. I grew up in the eastern part of the country. For me then, art was a luxury. I was also eager to earn good money. How could the two go together? I don’t know. Before university, my ideal occupation was a doctor as I would have to help people. I’ve spent long time not seeing and therefore belittling my skills. I studied fine arts but I still believed that it was a foolish thing to do. This way of thinking would stop me from painting again in the future. I did not paint for approximately eight years.
I was 30 years old when I could ask myself, “Am I thinking right?” At that time I was exploring “Istanbul Contemporary”. You know how doctors prescribe their patients to stay away from stress and live through beautiful things. And to me, “fine arts” is what the doctor is exactly saying. There are paintings so amazing that when you look at them the chemistry of your body changes. I’m not adding on some sort of a supernatural meaning; but we all know what happens when we meet beauty. Unless there is the decision to destroy everything that’s beautiful.
ink on paper 35 x 50
Both your portrayals of nature on big canvases or your drawings and sculptures contain microscopic details. They affect one differently when you look closely or from a distance. Can you please tell us some more on how you got working in this style and what or who inspired you for creating such works?
Only nature. Even if I can’t be as sophisticated as nature is, I am happy with the sensibility I have now. What I truly want is to sense and analyze as much as possible.
Where and how do you work? What are the essentials in your working space?
I live with my mom and my sister. I have a room and a working space. Of course, before the exhibition, I even occupied the kitchen. The must haves of my working space are the food that’s cooked by my mother, having a girl’s night working on my sculptures whilst drinking tea and chatting. I wouldn’t consider myself as a very friendly person, but everyone around me is my friend. My mother is a very close friend of mine.
ink on paper 35 x 50
We know you well from your work on Uykusuz Magazine. I won’t ask you to make a choice between art and caricature. But I wonder what are things you find parallel between the two disciplines? How does each feed you?
I was two years old and I saw a centipede in the bathroom. I was not at all able to explain what I saw. Because of this I was drawing centipedes on every piece of paper. Mum saved them all. Of course, now I am almost done with painting a drawing or caricature for the purpose of explanation.
As for the caricatures, lately I feel like I have two opposing points of view. When I was seven, we used to live in Diyarbakır. My dad was a military officer. My first caricature was to my dad: a caricature of Saddam (Hüseyin). Saddam says, “I want a war” but wearing a belly dancer dress and he is all bruised. He belly-dances because he has the war, but the war also got him bruised. My dad laughed a lot! I mean, in difficult times my passion for caricature activates. I shall make people happy; reduce their pain, wow, is this even possible? And there’s the other side; to be able to make a good caricature, you have to go through painful stuff. And then you can have the fantastic arabesque point of view towards life!
And then there’s the fake position of not taking anything seriously and making fun of everything. However from the inside, I’d be torn apart by pain. Sometimes readers curse at me, and they are damn right to do it. Because they can see how fake this attitude is before I do.
ink on paper (16 x 22,5) * 3
(Translation by Miglena Dzhimova)