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Exploring through questioning

Mamut Limited Vol.1 pop-up, the first exhibition of the Mamut Art Project team's Mamut Limited (Artist Editions) project, which aims to meet all creative people working in different fields and techniques from visual arts to design, music to fashion, took place at Yapı Kredi bomontiada between September 16-October 1, 2023. We are introducing the artists of this year's Mamut Limited, which will present special selections throughout the year on its online platform mamutlimited.com. Our sixteenth guest is Onur Hastürk


Onur Hastürk


Let's start by talking about your artistic journey. After completing your bachelor's degree in Traditional Turkish Arts, Illuminaton and Miniature, you completed your master's degree in Miniature at Marmara University by analyzing the figures of a 15th century manuscript astrology book called Suver-ul Kevakib. What inspired you to become an artist and how did you start making art and how did you realize it?

 

To summarize a long story, I have always been a person who questions my belonging, the society I live in and the meaning of life. During these processes, I always felt that there was an energy inside me that wanted to transform into a form of expression. Of course, I didn't know exactly what this was, how and what it would turn into at the time. But I was looking for a unique path for myself. I wanted to realize myself, to discover my potential. Over the years, as I learned to remove the things I didn't want from my life, we can say that this process led me to my own artistic story.


I see art as a way for me to explore myself and life by questioning myself, and miniature art is the main alphabet of a layered production practice, enabling me to connect with a rich cultural infrastructure for my way of thinking and expression on this journey.

How does your local culture and environment influence your artistic work? Do the materials and techniques you use in your art find an echo in this interaction network?

 

My local culture and environment have been the source of my problematics and productions in my artistic work for many years and this is very valuable to me. By integrating the social discourse between dichotomies such as East-West, traditional-contemporary, art-craft into my production practice, I continue to emphasize problems such as belonging, authority, identity, culture, and marginalization in my works. In this sense, the dynamics in local culture and the events in the environment constitute a constant source of inspiration and thought for me. As a part of the problems and solutions I live, living a life intertwined with contrasts that include different thoughts and discourses adds a constant richness to my artistic production. The reflection of these interactions can of course be seen in my material and technical preferences. In this context, I try to transform my artistic productions into a universal dialog between cultures, individuals and societies while using a local and at the same time authentic language.


Zodiac Signs / Pearls series, Gemini, Mixed media, Fine art print, 29,7×21 cm, Edition of 5+2


You’re saying you include the social and political discourse between dichotomies such as East-West, tradition-contemporary, art-craft in your production practice. What were the specific reasons behind your choice of miniature? Is it indispensable for you?

 

I had my own thoughts and some reasons behind my choice of miniature. And I can say that I realized how these will evolve even better during my education. I see art as a way for me to explore myself and life by questioning myself, and miniature art is the main alphabet of a layered production practice, enabling me to connect with a rich cultural infrastructure for my way of thinking and expression on this journey. This art practice offers me a unique, untouched and fertile terrain to transform the emotions, thoughts, concerns and problematics of the age I live in, individually and socially, into a form of expression.


I also realized over time that miniature accompanies the feeling of being the "other" in my own life in the same parallel. Miniature, in my imagination: It depicts many marginalized identities, cultures, people and minorities in Turkish art history and in our geography. And day by day, it opens a conceptually multi-layered reading text in my mind.


As for indispensability, nothing is indispensable. Everything can change and transform over time. Over the years, I see the reflections of this idea in my production practice.


The works we see at Mamut Limited belong to the Burç series and are based on your master's thesis. Could you tell us about Suver-ul Kevakib and the story of this series?

 

These works prepared for Mamut Limited Vol.1 are a series I started inspired by my master's thesis. For centuries, humanity's effort to make sense of existence, the earth and the sky has dragged it into an endless adventure. Astrology has also taken its place in humanity's interest in the unknown throughout the ages. The depictions in astrology manuscripts, which bear the traces of each culture, are a magnificent offers a visual feast. In this series, the zodiac signs are an artistic reflection of beliefs and cultures that have been influenced by each other in every sense over the centuries.


I use the multi-layered richness of their depictions. In my first editioned production practice, I took the manuscript Metali'ü's-sa'adet dated 1582 as a reference. The fact that manuscripts, which have been reinterpreted in every period throughout the ages, depict the artistic and cultural characteristics of their period constitutes my starting point. By transferring my own handmade illumination and marbling to digital media, I combine the figures I interpreted from the cult miniatures of the 16th century in the collage technique and invite the viewer to a multi-layered reading. Thus, I can say that the main idea behind these works is to problematically discuss the dialogue between art and craft in the "work of art" in our age where digital media and artificial intelligence have taken its place in art production. By incorporating the social discourse between dichotomies such as East-West, traditional-contemporary, art-craft into my production practice, I also continue to emphasize problematics such as tradition, belonging, authority, identity, culture, and marginalization in my works.

 

Zodiac Signs / Pearls series, Leo, Mixed media, Fine art print, 29,7×21 cm, Edition of 5+2


For you, is producing a successful work about personal satisfaction or recognition from the art world? Why?

 

I see that my perspective on this subject has changed over the years. Although I was someone who pursued personal satisfaction for a long time in my production practice after my education, later on I felt how proud it was to be appreciated by the art audience and to be appreciated in the art world. Still, I think it is a very delicate Ying Yang balance, a cycle in which both are intertwined. But I would also like to emphasize that:  "to be appreciated in the art world" is not only to be appreciated in a community, but to feel that I am in mutual empathy with many people and that we have a mutual mirroring of infinity on my work.


My local culture and environment have been the source of my problematics and productions in my artistic work for many years and this is very valuable to me. By integrating the social discourse between dichotomies such as East-West, traditional-contemporary, art-craft into my production practice, I continue to emphasize problems such as belonging, authority, identity, culture, and marginalization in my works.

How do you balance the artistic and technical aspects of miniature to achieve the results you want?

 

Achieving this balance is a process that I spend a lot of time on. The richly ornamented artistic form of miniature art should not get in the way of the subject, the idea or the problematic addressed in the work, or it should provide a unity. For this purpose, I proceed with many experiments and a multi-stage thought practice. In this thought and production process, I try to achieve an inclusive synthesis by taking the ideas of people from different perspectives and practices.


 

More details and extra information: https://mamutlimited.com/tr/ 

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