İsmail Acar goes on producing projects around the world more than he does in Turkey recently. He takes place in many projects from an art school in France to an open field art project that can be seen from space in China. We had a chat with the famous painter who cannot think of a life without art on his recent projects and art.

Can you tell us about your encounter exhibition?
During the World Humanitarian Summit that was held in last May, I had received an invitation to become a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations. I have visited many refugee camps with the United Nations, and individually. I had already been to many refugee camps before this invitation and this was the biggest reason that I received it. I have made observations in many aspects as I was conducting aid organizations. I have encountered many artists at the camps. I have helped many of them for long years. I supported them with supplies and reassurance. I wished to include the works of those artists whom I encountered at those camps during these long years to take place in my exhibition.

How did you choose the theme of your exhibition?
I got the inspiration from Rumi and determined the theme as tolerance. I wished to dedicate this exhibition to peace so it would contribute to peace. It includes about 30 of my works and about 20 of refugee artists’ works.

Can you tell us what lies behind your wish to create this exhibition?
I organize periodic exhibitions with the İdil Gallery. As we were working on my new exhibition, I felt like I was being pushed to create this exhibition because of the surrounding events. It seems as if a new world order is about to come into force and many people are being harmed in the process, primarily children and artists, unfortunately. Arts and artists are first to come down with these negative impacts. I wanted to motivate the artists who live under hard conditions and have their works seen.

You haven’t been in Turkey much in recent years, what have you been doing?
Yes, I have been away for almost three years. I have been working with various galleries in Dubai, Tokyo, Canada, Australia, and so on. There was an art school and an art center project in Bordeaux. There is a multi-dimensional art activity profile there; it doesn’t consist only painting. We are working on big environmental projects in China. These are large-scale projects that we call design and environmental art. It has been two years since we gave a start. We expect to conclude in three years. Except these, I sign under various special projects around the world.

What does art mean to you?
Art is a life style. It is a must. Absence of art to me equals to a disaster. It is like trying to live without oxygen. It is a concept that it is not possible to live in its absence, though I don’t question the state when it exists.

Can you tell us your first memory of painting?
I must bring up my childhood, then… What I remember from my childhood is a thrashing field. They plastered the ground with mud and brought the harvest there. As the mud was still wet, I picked up a stick and drew lines on a field over 2-3 acreage. I remember this with a little help from my mother. Later, I had hundreds of memories about painting.

Who are your favorite artists around the world?
I have full respect for the artists of the Renaissance, especially the Ancient Greek and Roman Period artists. The artists of that period influence me individually. I think art has lost its innocence a bit since the market took it by storm. Turning art into a tool of investment is thought provoking. Art that is made with aesthetic concern in mind instead of sales influences me.

What do you have to say about the development of modern art in the world?
Both in Turkey and in the world, the development of modern art is similar; however, it advances in a more scientific frame in the world. Auctions can be interfered in Turkey; artists may give their works. When we look at the world, neither artists nor collectors interfere with auctions. As a result, the contents and characteristics of art are affected. Art followers reach to a point where they cannot comprehend correctly the ones aimed in these interferences. Unfortunately, a collector may affect the market in our country. However, art is not a market; it is an aesthetic concept. The concepts of aesthetic and new still grab attention in the West, but the collectors in Turkey interfere too much.

What would your advice be for the young artists?
They are lucky when compared to the past terms. There is interest coming from galleries and collectors; there are many competitions organized. They should consider themselves at the world scale. They should not think of art as an intermediary. Art is a life style. Once they get a new position, they should sense that they could do this job until the day they die. Instead of saving the day, the week, or the year, I suggest them try and leave their mark on this world. I suggest them to be as free as they can and don’t care about interventions.

The number of collectors in Turkey has increased, what do you think about it?
Most people purchase paintings and then place them into storages. Locking up a work and waiting for the day that it would worth more doesn’t seem right to me. Being a collector should not mean to become a broker of this business. The collectors around the world present them to society by donating those artworks to museums.

What type of projects are you planning?
The project we are working on in Bordeaux, the art school will be materialized on a 350 hectare of land. An artwork will be created in China that will be seen from space with its Lotus Gardens and special trees. I will have exhibitions in Saudi Arabia, Seoul, and Moscow. My past exhibitions will be on tour in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. My projects under the name of Five Senses Five Facts go on. I have a special exhibition that can be visited by visually impaired; it will be on a tour around the world, also. My projects on social responsibility will continue.

What type of a painting would you be, if you were one?
The paintings where people question themselves contain elements such as birth, love, and apocalypse. In all this, what grabs my interest is the end. The painting I would like to be inside would be the paradise; the ending point that all humanity expresses. There has always been a paradise depiction since the 2nd century. I would like to question the human virtue.