Painter Gülseren Südor still pushing the limits after 52 years

Published 26.09.2017 20:32
Updated 26.09.2017 20:33
Daily Sabah's İrem Yaşar with Gülseren Südor (R)
Daily Sabah's İrem Yaşar with Gülseren Südor (R)

Describing herself as a fantastic realist, Turkish artist Gülseren Südor questions women's identity and position in a patriarchal society at her latest solo exhibition, ‘Then and Now; Yet They Are All The Same'

Gülseren Südor perceives Nietzsche's quote: "Where is beauty? It is where I have to demand; it is where I want to love and disappear so that it is not just an image," as a manifesto and creates her pieces with it in mind. She lives in and emphasizes the responsibility of being a woman in Anatolia. Journalist and art critic Abdülkadir Günyaz describes Südor's art as "idealized reflections of a sensitive artistic soul and a total clearness – forms about universe, nature and of course about women." Südor, who has been an artist for 50 years, lived in Italy after she graduated from Istanbul Fine Arts Academy with a master of fine arts in 1970. She opened nine solo exhibitions abroad, including in Italy and Austria, and 61 solo exhibitions in Turkey. She has participated in several biennials, triennials and art fairs throughout her career and has also written a basic design book. Her work is exhibited in various collections and museums.

She is preparing to present a new solo exhibition titled "Then and Now; Yet They are All the Same" at Gallery Diani between Oct.7 and Oct. 28. "I believe that the most fearful reality for an artist is the question of being able or unable to produce everlasting artwork that forces the limits of one's mind, talent and, of course, the accumulation of one's experience," she explained. She makes a synthesis or a summary of her 50 years in the art world in her new exhibition. Deniz Özden said that Südor questioning women's identity and position in a patriarchal society and her emphasizing the power of women in the exhibition is a kind of query with her own art.

l Daily Sabah: Do you have a primary medium in your works? If so, why did you choose it?

Gülseren Südor: Actually, I can't say just a medium. I use various techniques such as oil painting, lithography and line drawing. It changes according to what you think. You choose your subject according to your life experience or what you have been affected by and make a composition of it. Then you decide the best technique for your work. For example, I like working in nature. I generally design patterns when I am in nature.

D.S.: What is the challenging part of your profession? How is the life of an artist?

G.S.: I am 72 and I started the academy in 1965. I have been working continuously as an artist for 52 years. This is one of the challenging parts of my profession. If you deal with visual art, it will bring continuous work with it. Actually, it is the same in everything – you don't get something for nothing, and the price of being an artist is working. Think about an athlete. If they don't practice, they will be in poor condition for success. It is similar in our profession. I have never stopped working. I had a child, and even that didn't prevent me from working. For example, I went to museums with her. This is the only thing that I am proud of myself for. I am such a hardworking artist that I work during my trips as well. When I go somewhere, I also bring my pencils, notebooks, papers and paints. However, I should tell that my husband and I are lucky. We are two artists living and working together. Our studio is in our home. We can work wherever we want in this house and also can criticize our work mutually from an artist's perspective. As you know, I am a student of Bedri Rahmi. He says: "The most fearful thing in the world is sitting on the canvas for me." Another important thing is also taking the first step. Even if you are a professional, it is hard to start every time. You create the composition and you think of the colors and the shapes. However, when it comes to the first brushstroke, you experience uneasiness.

D.S.: What most inspires your work?Art affects art. There is a famous saying: "Art is born from art." Other art forms affect me very much. A good film or a film frame can be very influential. Also, the books that I have read affect my art. I like reading. As you see, my house is full of books. For instance, I wait especially for Orhan Pamuk's books. His books certainly give me a clue. For instance, a sentence in his book "Istanbul" affected me deeply. It was: "What happens if the Bosporus shrinks." I painted many pieces on this sentence. Therefore, these kind of details are what has an influence. Sometimes, a piece of music brings me somewhere that its composer has never thought of or sometimes a piece of literature affects me deeply. This is where we start from.

D.S.: What is your creative process like? How do you choose your themes?

There are social, economic and political events along with the other forms of art. These are also very influential. I am highly interested in the theme of women and nature. Children also attract me. It is sure that you will see women figures, placentae or natural elements in my work. I give importance to oppressed women, as they have been marginalized for years. We really make them the other without recognition. There are a lot of women who can't live the lives that they want. Many of them can't have the opportunity to choose their own way. I focus on both their physical and psychological oppression. When it comes to nature, I think similarly. We also oppress nature by destroying it. Therefore, humans' behaviors and relations with nature and women are sacred for my themes. After the themes, a continuous work process starts for me. I start working with a passion that time could never destroy. I work day and night in my studio.

D.S.: How can you describe yourself? Do you follow a school?

I regard myself as a realist since I use figures. Actually, fantastic realist would be more proper. I can paint without looking at anything. I look at a figure or a model, then the eyes take its photo. I use this image in my mind. I don't draw sketches.

D.S.: Can you talk about your new solo exhibition? What kind will it be?

I prepared my exhibitions on one main theme, but with different techniques up to now. This time, I wanted to revitalize my previous work with a different mind and different techniques. I started to question myself and my artwork from the '80s, and I will exhibit my previous work together with the new ones so that this self-query can be understood deeply. As I said before, I always work day and night in my studio. After I see a great number of my artworks, I realize what inspires me was similar – they have not changed for years. The only thing that changes is the time.

"Then and Now; Yet They Are All The Same" will open at Südor's daughter's gallery, Gallery Diani, on Oct. 7.

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