In Optical Fictions, On Nature-Human Relationship: Elif Tutka

In her paintings with optical constructions, Elif Tutka deals with the contrasts between the mechanical order created by man and nature. The fictional and artificial elements in her compositions depicted in a realistic style and painted with oil and acrylic, create contrast both visually and semantically. We had a conversation with the artist about the methods and practices she uses in her artistic process.

Elif Tutka is graduated from Mimar Sinan University Painting Department, in 2010. After graduating, she worked as an artists’ assistant in Ekrem Yalçındağ’s Studio for three years. Tutka lives and works in Istanbul.

After graduating from school, for a long time you have worked in Ekrem Yalçındağ’s Studio, one of the Turkish prominent artists. How was this experience, could you explain briefly? Did this experience had any influence on your artworks? 

I started working with Ekrem by chance and it had a great contribution to me in terms of experience. During the years I studied at Mimar Sinan I have met him. We can say that I was in the right place at the right time. He is a very respected artist and a great supporter. We can consider my experience there as a double major.

In your paintings, you represent the relationship between nature and man, could you explain this? What kind of connection is there between the birds, plants and other living beings you depict from nature and optical fictions?

While nature can sustain their existence without the need for man’s mind and effort, man comes into play. Deprived of green places. Although it is a part of it, we are living in a mechanized, artificial order that driven away from nature, created but not from us, and unfortunately, I am also involved in it. We are all parts of a whole, we are a part of a natural continuity that we have created. In my paintings, I try to reveal the disturbing mechanisms of human creation in contrast to the perfectness of nature.

Elif Tutka – Sun bird in time ll

When we look at your paintings, most of them have an illusion of movement that originates from optical fiction, would it be possible to perceive this as our ongoing movement or life cycle when we consider the nature and human relationship?

Of course, we can perceive. At the same time, somehow, each of us touches each other’s lives, and don’t we create a butterfly effect? So everything interacts with each other in some way.

In another interview, you have mentioned that you started using different techniques besides painting, could you explain these new and different techniques? How did you come up with this need? How does it develop?

I am currently in search of new things. I use oil paint, acrylic paint on canvas. I tend to become a little bit more liberalized in my paintings, especially in terms of a technique. In my last painting, Somewhere Like a World, you will see more of traces of it. But I don’t think I will ever break with my optical fictions. I am searching to find if it is possible to catch the same effect on my canvases or even more of it via video as well. I love surprises, I have a curiosity to create using technology and I am in search of it. For this reason, I am also open to collaborations with my friends, and I am excited about a joint project as well. On the other hand, kinetic sculptures attract my attention, too. Maybe I’ll try it one day… In short, I want to be at every point where I get astonished and where the art is.

How does your artistic process begin? Could you summarize your one day?

I think the artistic process is similar to pregnancy. The first trimester is the period when the idea and the decisions come out. The second trimester is when the idea is developed and decisions are made. And even coincidences during the applications are open to surprises that contribute to the painting. The third trimester is sometimes easygoing, but sometimes it can be a painful process when the ideas and decisions are put into practice… I do not plan what to do during the day. I do not have a specific routine. I work at various times since every moment is an inspiration for me. Even the news I read or watch could be the beginning of a new process and a pregnancy moment 🙂

Recently, in Turkey, many art competitions for young artists are available, various artists’ initiatives started and alternative opportunities to exhibit the artworks are raised. What do you think about these attempts?

I am aware that such organizations have increased in recent years. It is obvious that it is quite encouraging for young artists, but I think that it has a lot of contribution as well as negative effects. Particularly, I think, the subjects declared for the competitions are not necessary. For me, an awarding system is an approach that I do not find correct in artistic production. We are living in such an era that everyone has a chance to create his/her luck so why everyone needs the approval of someone else? It is already possible to reach the desired audience if we use the communicative and interactive mediums correctly.

Elif Tutka – Life Line

Could you tell us about your acquaintance process with What are your thoughts about taking place in one of Turkey’s leading online art platforms?

I joined in through my dear friend Sevtap Yılmaz who is an artist as well. She laid a bridge between us. Our relationship with this platform is quite recent but despite this, there is a strong sense of trust and sincerity. I take these values as necessities of professional relations. In the period, where social media and visibility are valued more and more, being in a transforming art platform that develops itself every day is like a seed thrown into fertile land…

What are your dreams for the future? Where is the place that you would like to reach at the end of your career?

It is always difficult to answer very simple questions. I have a very recent project in my mind; I would like to have a studio that everyone could visit. But it won’t be only a studio, it would be a living space as well. As they say, it will be a door entering towards the heart of a human being. So, I have a plan to open my heart to everyone, I wish I could realize it. I have dreams, of course, I need time to realize them… Like most artists, I would like to be more visible, to get known and to be looked for. And to realize these and to reach more people, I need to get globalized, to keep up with the world, to have collaborative projects abroad are just steps. And I keep my connections alive.

If you are given a huge amount of budget and you could only buy work from only one artist, which work would you buy? Why?

I am not a collector so I cannot think like an investor, but I would buy ‘Seria Ludo’ or ‘All Things Fall’ by Mat Collishaw. I admire his artworks and his intelligence. I think Mat Collishaw has distinctive creative abilities. I get excited and mesmerized when I see his works.


Click for the artist page.

Interview: Sena Arcak Bağcılar