Coversation On Fragmentation




Hayri Esmer ‘Fragmentation’ exhibition is sort of a Retro-composition selected amongst his works since 2007. Fragmentation depicts the artist’s transitional summary throughout the years; from monochrome paintings, to multi-colour and multi-piece works from minimal forms to subsequently transitioning to symbolic imagery. It’s like an experience where different time spans are colliding and being transported from one era to another. Esmer’s work are like his own rejuvenation and transformation. It is like an endless puzzle. Furthermore, in the artist’s work we see, his kinship with architecture and the city which play a significant role for him. Geometry, geometric layout of forms, symmetry, linearity, and the final conjuction... These definitions are mutual directions for architecture and art.The Artist embraces the city’s structural and multi-coloredness in a sort of ‘optical cultural codes’ and transforms these aspects. We had the opportunity to interview the artist on his past to his present, from facts to factual information. Let’s hear the process from the Artist himself and do our part by reminding Hayri Esmer with our questions.

Fırat Arapoğlu-Hayri Esmer

What do you depict in your paintings in general projects/experiences before and during events/developments that instigate and increase your desire to create and keep you alive? On the contrary, what kind of events can hinder your excitement and can impede you for awhile?

As daily events can become extraordinary at times; sometimes a composition or maybe a poem that internalised, matured and waiting to be expressed or an impulse can avtivate my desire to create. Sometimes another art work can instigate my urge of desire to create. Basically, I have a weakness for anything and everything that evokes my admiration in some way. Generally ı cannot disguise my reaction to what ı experience and to re-think ı make linear notes. Each idea and image that shelters an extraordinary and an intellectual perspective excites me and provoke my sense of creativity. Coming to the second part of your question; regardless of our potential of development, technological equipment, and overcoming problems, many events that we experience in our homes, institutions, country and geography that we could otherwise cross off as absurd, or peculiar become unnerving, and suspends our production and compels us to change our priorities.

Now, I would like to ask your opinion on a matter that has been debated in art for a very long time: How do you feel about the difference of being an Academic or an Artist? The matter is constantly questioned and probed into.You are a name that carries both identities, how do you evaluate this situation?

Was ıt always so? I can not recall but art academies are currently distancing from “art”. I believe that academics will not participate in creating art in the future. Over the last 10-20 years the gap between an academic and an artist has deepened extensively. During my academic years all of my teachers without an exception believed and created art had exhibitions. Those who did not exhibit in an Academic institution were considered as ‘Others’. Today this is not the case I am afraid. Most academist do not create art and this is considereed to be normal situation. Maybe it is... Academies lost their significant role in the art medium. No doubt it was the Academies that were the most powerful force in the art industry in the 80’s..Is it like that today? In my opinion,it is not.Over the last 30 years,due to various reasons academics have lost upward momentum and fell behind the era. Now the art industry is flowing with the market at the present force.At the most creative time of their academic lives the artists struggle to survive amongst the bureaucratic details that complicate matters even more. In this dominantly bureaucratic environment the language of art and bureaucracy do not coincide.This is the main reason for the increasing gap and disintegration between academics and artists. I am one who believes the bonds have broken. But regardless of everthing else we cannot say that there are no artists.The best artists in academies are the ones that feel less attached to the environment of the academy.

If you weren’t existing in your present field: which artist would you have specifically wanted to be and specifically what kind of art would you be creating? Can you please evaluate the present condition of today’s contemporary art scene,Turkish Art, and current situation of today’s art in your answer?

First of all, if it wasn’t like the way it is today I would have desired it and put all my effort into making it like “today”. The only reason I am saying this, is because of my present artistic choice. I think the type of art, understanding,and technique that ı use in my art work reflect me.The artist should elude from all the influences that don’t belong to him, and can reach and find ‘himself ’. I still that expressionist, hyperrealistic, and inner extensions choices would sound close to me. For the other part of your question; I would say that it is very difficult and different extensions with possible and complicated structure... In summary ı can only say this.Today painting is not under “attack” as it was in the 1990’s. Finally, it is not seen as all done with and gone and dead, or outdated.Time, has shown that art is an important language and response and this is why ı chose the surface. During my graduate years there was a debate going on right around this topic. In those years there was a discussion going on cussions on “Painting is dead!” Naturally with these on going question was “If painting is dead then what’s next?”... Here are the responses to the questions asked in the 90’s about present day art , today’s paintings are the answers. I believe that these critics have created important changes and breaks in the Turkish Art history.Today’s painting is an important and indispensable combination and its boundaries are not as tight anymore. Sometimes it’s necessary to surpass the canvas and stretch use of other materials without the excluding speculativeness, interconnected with the political and intertemporal perceptionist choice. Sometimes protecting the value of coloring and ability insistently, sometimes an extraordinary work that penetrates through the relational context and images. In this sense I find the change in Turkish art over the past 15 to 20 years (regardless of all the negative situations) absolutely impressing; today’s art is the most dynamic and most productive area. Of course while we are on this topic we cannot ignore the the important negative aspects as well. Maybe Art had never been a commodity shaped so much so as now when its being directed and affected by the present market conditions. Unfortunately the Biennial’s, art fairs, auctions and even most galleries are being indexed to strategically satisfy the desire of consumption.This is a dangerous thing... Can there be an art world that defines itself with the codes of consumerism and the “spectacle” world? Au contraire it is expected to remember the actual duty of art. Especially the change or the die out phase of ‘artistic’ that occured after post modern flexibility of pricipality and creation of new values, included all the actors that were once excluded into the art world. I beleive that there is a situation where policies, strategies and the power of ‘art’ is pushing ashore. This brings art face to face with instrumentalization and authoritarian configuration, more so , I believe it creates fundamental problems with freedom. Art remains strong and free to structure and the changes in market; as long as it stays free it will become persuasive!

This “enganged”art matter is important.What kind of a strategy have you implied in your final series of your art work? How can you refrain from the instrumentalisation of art from these conditional courses that we define as engagement?

I learned art through books and artists.When I decided to become a teacher naturally to teach I had to read and learn a little bit more. In my opinion the sources that I used as resources was important... Because this process will allow you to move on principles, you will develop the habit not to violate your beliefs, To believe in ‘Art’ and to remain loyal makes every thing else fractionalise. I have always believed to stay away from the market, the actors and relationships that I don’t believe in. Also, before I had pointed out the thought that academics have a negative impact on art perspective now has been reversed and become a positive thing. I is the opportunity where the artist is stripped from its economic anxiety and can express a free attitude.

What type of manifesto would explain your view on life and explain your intellectual and formal foundation?

Since along time I have emphasised the thematic frequency, and perceived language and understanding as an issue. That’s why there is a new ‘understanding’ in each of my exhibitions. For instance In my“Windows” exhibition I specifically arranged 100 canvases black and White. In my ‘consecutive patterns’exhibition, I worked monochrome and used lines for the first time by brushing off their formative features, in their primitive state.What I find most important is my language, method, the ability of being true to myself and finally the potential of change. I am interested in the spiritual world of the individual’s and I dislike telling stories. I believe that experencing work has a persuasive affect. In this sense I am trying to create a conceptual bond with life. If we exclude my student years, abstraction, abstract and expressionist narration reveal my perspective that ı try to convey. I have used Technique and material wise I have used canvases, wood, drawing and engraving; nowadays I am conceptualising and working on three dimensional pieces. In my search for different materials to use and my search of different languages to channel out my creativity renew me and create a dynamic appeal to my creations. Further more looking at the modern society in a bias yet realistic perspective , the city culture,historical identities, visual culture politics and finally looking at the geographical danger and cultural codes and symbols and trying to understand and explain them excites me incredibly.

What would you like to tell us about your final exhibition ?

This exhibition is a composition of my works since 2007. It is From monochrome paintings to colourful multi piece canvases. It is an experience that will demonstrate metamorphosis...At the same time this exhibition will demonstrate the minimalistic and symbolic forms that include more flexibility and finally that will depict the transition of togetherness. Basically it is a show of different series and times that will show how well they form and demonstrate works.My main reason in displaying my work this way is because I work on my creations simultaneously or one after another non-stop. During my process of creation my work changes from what it depicts to new works of art. It is like a live organism or an endless game. This way it becomes impossible to talk about one certain time period. On the other hand I am also interested with architectural structures and cities... I am someone who gets inspiration through the cities architectural and cultural structures. Finally I am also interested in the identity of the cities ambassador. It is safe to say that arrangements, symmetry, tradition, precision and life in general is the centre of this exhibition. Finally I would like to say there is that the vibrant, desirable and indispensable cities. It is the symbol for passion and transformation.