THE IMPRESSIVE STORY OF A CONFIDENT PAINTER WHO ESTRANGES HIMSELF FROM THE SOCIAL LIFE TO FIND HIS UNIQUE STYLE BRINGS HIM INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS.
Ahmet Güneştekin transformed a 600 square meters historical location into a mesmerizing Million Stone by reinterpreting the place located in Pietà within the scope of Venice Biennial. The exhibition that was organized by Marlborough Gallery and curated by Matthew Drutt presents eight new works by Güneştekin. The works are expected to draw great attention with their stand against the patriarchal symbolism. Ahmet Güneştekin’s personal exhibit is named as ‘Million Stone’ and includes two sculptures and six paintings. The exhibition that was opened in May in tandem with Venice Biennial can be visited until November 22. The artist who was born in Batman set out on his own journey by refusing to receive academic education. Today, he grabs attention of the art lovers by means of his unique works. We had a special interview with Ahmet Güneştekin.
You were born in Batman, and you have opened your first workshop in 1997. What happened in between?
I lived in Batman until my university years. I came to İstanbul in 1986 and entered examination for the art school. I received some education and then went back to Batman, giving up studying. Later, I studied business management in Eskişehir. I decided to move back to İstanbul in 1991. I have been living in İstanbul for twenty-four years. I have been busy with arts since my childhood and have never drifted away.
Why did you drop out of the Academy?
I did it because I thought that my educators and masters would affect me. I have chosen to create in my own world freely. I don’t regret my decision. I am not against education but if I had to make that decision again today, I would have done the same thing.
Would you suggest to people who want to paint not to go to school so their talent won’t lie fallow?
No, this is a matter of choice. You shouldn’t force art in any way. I am only saying, “Work hard, believe in you, and become aware of that art is created with knowledge.” Art is a difficult decision to make; what roads that you are going to go through are certain when you choose any other major. Art requires success; you have to reach large masses if you want to be permanent. Especially in the 21st century, you have to be different and good. The world is unbelievably advanced; there are many important artists; it is not easy to become prominent among them. You must do something different than they do.
Haven’t you thought painting as a professional job?
I didn’t think about painting professionally until I came to İstanbul. I didn’t think that art could be my profession; painting would be an important part of my life and I would become known this way. It was hard to imagine it. Most of the artists that are approved in Turkey are educated, some of them had studied abroad. As an artist who had refused education, I used to think that it was impossible for me to exist with art. I didn’t even consider it. It was a hobby for me. But I have never drifted away, I kept painting.
How did your transformation happen?
I was engaged in trade between 1991 and 1997 in İstanbul. I decided to enter arts in 1997; however, if I wanted to be approved, I had to create a different style. I lived in seclusion for six years. I traveled in Anatolia. I opened a workshop. I was in search of something different for six years without having my name known or being in an artistic circle or opening an exhibition. My struggle continued for six years until I finally shook off the influences of other artists and what I learned before. I was ready at the end. I created a unique style of my own.
When did you open your first exhibit?
It was at Atatürk Cultur Center in 2003. I have become a well-known artist ever since. People are curious about what I am going to do next.
What was your breaking point when you made the decision to become a professional artist?
I studied business management and I am recognized as a person who knows about trade, planning, and management. However, I used to say that I was not born for this. I used to know that I was born for art and I was talented. My company was bankrupted during the economic crisis in Turkey in 1996. I took it as a sign and opened my first workshop.
What are the things that inspire you?
I am usually inspired by Anatolia and Mesopotamia, our country’s culture. Although, I work in parallel with the West, it doesn’t inspire me. I am an artist who is inspired by our own culture. I like to use mythology and history since that is what my subjects require. I have worked in this field for almost twenty years. I have made numerous documentary films. I have collected myths and legends. My area is actually facing with history.
The painter is at Venice Biennial
“Venice Biennial, which is visited by the whole world and continues for seven months, is among the important biennials. Artists have great responsibility because the whole art world is watching us.”