Glass fusion artist and sculptor Kamil Akmanov, who lives in the Republic of Tatarstan and came to Istanbul to open an exhibition in March, has been staying in Istanbul for about four months since flights were canceled under the coronavirus measures. Turning his house into a workshop here, Akmanov continued to produce his artworks in the metropolis by reflecting iconic Hagia Sophia on them.
During the process he has been staying in Istanbul, Akmanov produced new sculptures of wood and glass fusion artworks and presents his exhibition of about 40 works to the delight of art lovers. Titled "Color Through Glass," the exhibition meets the viewers at Bereketzadeli Art Gallery in Galata neighborhood. The show of the artist, who is also a member of the Union of Artists of Tatarstan and Russia, is being curated by his daughter Aygül Okutan.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Akmanov said that he started his art life with ceramic sculpture work 30 years ago. He began to produce various works with the fusion technique, which is the melting of glass at high temperature, in the course of time. Akmanov stated that he carries out various applications such as double melting, embossing and contours on glass with fusion technique, adding: “I love the art of glass fusion. Now I can say that I have specialized in this area. I try to apply a new technique every day, such as different heat levels in my works.”
The artists said that most of the works in the "Color Through Glass" exhibition is about Istanbul and that he also etched the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque on glass in different situations. Noting that he admires Istanbul, its streets and old buildings, Akmanov said: “History and culture coexist in this metropolis. As you walk through the streets, you suddenly come across a historic building you never expected. I especially love Karaköy district, where Byzantine and Ottoman structures are together. For instance, I have fallen in love with Kurşunlu Han (Inn) in Karaköy. It is a structure that remains completely intact in its pure form. Istanbul is really a city of interlocking history, cultures and peoples. One of the places that have impressed me the most in Istanbul is Hagia Sophia. When I first walked through the door of Hagia Sophia, I said, 'what different, what great people have passed through this door, and now I am going through it,’” he added.
Mentioning his other productions during the pandemic, Akmanov continued: "In my stay in Istanbul during the pandemic, I went on new pursuits and decided to work on wood as well. I turned my house into a workshop, bought materials and produced wooden sculptures with great love and enthusiasm. I do not know how the quarantine process went on for other people but it was a very productive and beautiful time for me.”
Akmanov graduated from the department of architecture and worked as an architect for some time before starting his art life. He continued: “Architecture was not enough for me. I was not inspired enough by this profession. When I was 39, I decided to become an artist. I had friends who were engaged in glass staining at that time. Glass pieces remained from their work. When a friend of mine told me that these pieces could be fired and melted and I could produce could something new, the door of a new world was opened to me. Then I found a book about glass art and got the first idea about glass fusion from that book. There was no internet at that time. I found my own technique through trial and error by examining the books completely. For instance, not all glasses fit together. Although some of the colors were beautiful, they were cracking after removing them from the oven.”
Akmanov expressed that he melted all the glass he found at the time, such as windows and bottles, to produce new works of art, Akmanov continued: “I was working nonstop, without a break. Even at night, I was dreaming of the designs I was going to make on my work. I'd have a notebook right next to me. I'd wake up at night, draw sketches and fall into a more peaceful sleep. I saw a design in my dream and said to myself ‘anyway, let me draw in in the morning,’ and returned to sleep. But when I woke up in the morning and could not remember, I started to have my sketchbook with me every night.”
Noting that the glass fusion works could remain sound for about 500 years, the artist said: “Those who do similar work in this field, such as glass decoration and design, usually have to earn money, as glass is a really expensive material. I am the only artist in Tatarstan who produces works with this kind of design and fusion technique. I spent my childhood in a village, and I was constantly trying to make a form with clay and mud at the side of the stream.”
The works of Akmanov, who has participated in more than 30 major exhibitions in Russia, are also in the collection of the State Art Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan. The artist's Istanbul exhibition “Color Through Glass” will be available until Aug. 5.