In her paintings, Nursun Hafızoğlu struggles against the insolvable, agglomerate and chaotic environment of city life. She focuses on human greediness and selfishness by representing elements from nature and distorted images of urban landscapes. In her paintings, the delicate and fragile aspects that are given by using a collage technique represents the sensitive attitude of nature. We had a conversation with Nursun Hafızoğlu on the concepts that she raises throughout her paintings, on the books she reads and the artists she follows.
Nursun Hafızoğlu completed her undergraduate degree at the Painting Department of Çukurova University in 2011 and completed her graduate degree at the Painting Department of the Institute of Fine Arts at Akdeniz University.
You represent the images from urban landscapes and focus on the destruction of cities. The treatment of the urban landscapes in your works says a lot. Visually, they transfer strong messages about the damages. Could you explain briefly about the development process of your artworks?
My process is a kind of awareness for me. The ecological crisis in the world and the environmental disasters that came along led me to focus on these issues. The ambition of excessive growth and consumption policies are the results of these disasters. In my works, I focus on this situation, and I derive from human greed, selfishness, and alienation from nature, and when I look at the cities, I see the concepts such as “uncertainty, deadlock, crowdedness, loneliness, chaos” as my origin.
In your compositions, we see living beings from natural life such as deers and elephants, which are represented among the distorted structures. What do these animals represent?
In my works, I represent the nature and city encounter as a struggle and the animal figures are one of the parties of this struggle. I do not depict only animal images but I also draw plants in an abstracted way, which are the symbols of wildlife and destroyed nature of these living beings. These living beings belonging to nature, are those who are displaced by human beings and need shelter to exist. The images of urban landscapes consist of objects, signs, and symbols that any inhabitant often experience in their daily life practices. My compositions consist of the meanings that these contrasts nurture. At the same time, I use the naivety and fragility of the collage technique to keep the balance of the sensitive and the destructive, to strengthen this expression in my use of techniques. By doing so, I try to draw the viewer’s attention to the sensitive border between death and life.
Aside from this distortion and destruction that you have dealt with, how should a ‘city’ be according to you? Could you explain this by considering the concepts of utopia and dystopia that you are dealing with?
About 500 years ago, utopists thought that they should begin changing people from their environment, and therefore they designed urban designs to reach the ideal society. But humanity; wars, globalizing world, big breaks in ecosystem, consumer culture, population growth, social injustice, negativities caused by technology, have turned away from these utopias as a result of many negative happenings and unfortunately the environment in which the disappointment and emerged, brought them closer to the dystopian one. The question of how the city should be is hidden in people’s perception processes and lifestyles. In my opinion, a city made up of individuals who do not lose their ties with nature, who respect the right to life of someone else, including other creatures, and who have become aware of the harms of greed and consumption policies can only progress towards being ideal.
You produce your pictures with a mixed media technique. Have you ever tried any other mediums to express yourself in a different method than working on canvas or paper?
Yes, even though I use collage as an element for strengthening and supporting my message on my canvases, I also have assemblages, installations, and sculptures. While expressing myself, I consider exploring different ways to produce as instructive and entertaining experiences.
What nourishes you during your artistic process? What do you look at, what do you read, watch, except the subject which you focus on?
As a person living in the city, although I first focused on the urban stalemate with my own experiences, I later started to read the utopian and dystopian works. I read the literary works of great writers to understand human history, art history, civilization history, and people. I follow the changes in the ecological crisis that are happening in the world and in our country. Although I have watched many cults in the field of cinema, especially dystopic fictions attract my attention.
Do you have any curiosity about buying a work of art, or collecting something? Have you ever thought about having your own collection in the future? If you had an unlimited budget, from who and what would you buy first? Why?
My curiosity to collect and accumulate is directly proportional to my interests. The books, movies I love, and, of course, works of art if possible. If my budget would allow, I would definitely buy a work by Julie Mehretu. The dynamic interpretations of the confusion and the sense of infinity in modern cities, which the artist has designed as a multi-layered structure, inspires me deeply.
Do you continue your graduate education? Are you thinking of continuing at the academy alongside your artist career?
As of this period, my master’s education has ended. I think art education is necessary and I am thinking of continuing the Ph.D.
It is now possible for artists to reach the audience through social media channels. Do you actively use social media? Have you seen an advantage of it, what do you think about it?
Today, social media channels have become very important for visual artists. I also care about this situation, I try to be active thus, I can reach more people. I think it is a very effective way to both convey my works to more people and to reach the works of other artists.
You have just started collaborating with art50.net, one of Turkey’s leading art platforms. How did you get acquainted, and how was this process?
I met art50.net on the occasion of a friend of my curator and artist, and it was an art platform that I have been following with interest for about four years. Then my dear instructor, Dr. Ebru Nalan Sülün, with her advice, connection was established with art50.net. I think it is an advantage to be in such an art platform today, where visibility is very important and the digital world is equally common.
Click for the artist page.
Interview: Sena Arcak Bağcılar