While producing her paintings, Elif Çelebi inspires from the performing arts. In her compositions, the figures in motion integrate with nature and Çelebi takes the viewer from reality into fictional spaces in which there is no sense of gravity. Among the various techniques that Çelebi is experienced with, she mostly uses engraving while producing her artworks. We had a conversation with Çelebi on her education, artistic practice, and plans for the immediate future.
Elif Çelebi is a senior student at Anadolu University at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Printing Arts.
You are a senior student at the Department of Printing Arts at Anadolu University. Let’s talk about the education given at the university and the “engraving” technique that you mostly prefer while producing your artworks.
I learned a lot within the four years of education I have received so far. I learned a lot about printing techniques and expanded my knowledge of contemporary art. Of course, the contributions of my instructors on this matter were also valuable. Also, the university has the most comprehensive and equipped printmaking workshops in Turkey. This is a great chance for me and also for other students. We have a chance to learn by experiencing many techniques and experimenting during the production processes. With engraving, I feel most competent and work with love. Because it enables innovations and different experiments. As one of my instructors mentioned, you have to give your heart to be able to do this work and I have given my heart 🙂
Throughout your works, you focus on the concepts as ‘void-motion’ and ‘human-society’. Could you explain how you came along with these concepts?
While producing their artworks, some artists look at their inner worlds as a source, and some look at the outer worlds and their surroundings. Some reflect both of these in their works. I am one of those who prefer to look at both and blend them. Because I believe, life is like this … It is a mixture of our inner world and the outer world. In one of the books that I have read, there was this notion about how we are born with the capacity to learn and imagine but that people who were born and lived before us teach us how to imagine by implying social canons. When a child is born, we focus all of his/her attention on the countless rules of social imagination. We try to make him/her learn these rules and act accordingly. So, there is a spinning wheel, a mechanism, a system, and the downside that is applied to everything. And we, without realizing it, reach an agreement with these rules in the society. This is a quite broad subject…
Void and motion in my work; appeared with my curiosity about the stage, theater, dance, and music. Every time I watch a theater or a dance show, I observe how these artists perfectly use the void in that huge stage. Especially the dancers’ movements inside the void excite me a lot, and this is what inspires me. This is why the concepts of “Human and society, void and motion” exist together and why I concentrate on them…
In your paintings, there is harmony and balance between nature and the figures. Will it be possible to say that, you keep this balance by using repetitive forms and lines? And what would you say about their relationship with choreography?
Yes, the representation of images from nature and nature itself are among the ones I chose to strengthen my expression while creating my fictions in my works. After a theater play that I watched in 2012, I internalized the feeling of pride and happiness on the faces of the actors during the applause at the end of the play. Then, at the end of each play, my eyes were filled with tears. I always feel proud of them. The performing arts have a distinctive place in me and it is one of my sources of inspiration. Furthermore, the design of the stage, lighting, and costumes inspires me a lot that sometimes I watch some plays more than once. Especially in musical theaters, opera and ballets, I also find the choreographies very impressive. From time to time, these are reflected in my works through the figures I use.
In your paintings, we see floating figures and there is no sense of gravity. Also in some compositions, there is a soil on which a tree stands, but suddenly it turns into a fictional space with these floating images. How do you build these fictional spaces?
Many of us still live in the cities. We are surrounded by concrete walls around us. When I look outside from my window, I see a small portion from the sky and a few clouds over the stacks of buildings. Also, two or three trees are trying to live on a sidewalk… Therefore my window is the only place where I fulfill my imagination. I imagine a huge sky among the clouds, on the trees… I combine these with the elements of performative arts as I mentioned earlier. I’ve been creating my compositions for quite a while. I prefer to create different and fictional places using the same forms. Because everything changes over time, including thoughts and feelings. Nowadays, my thoughts and feelings are in favor of constructing different places.
Can you briefly explain how your experience with art has initiated?
The paintings I made during primary school was always liked by my teachers. I loved to deal with painting. I was spending hours painting a single one. I was working in great detail. Then, I had a great art teacher at secondary school. He has sent one of my paintings into a competition, without my knowledge, and my painting is awarded the second prize. I can never forget those moments… It was my first success in this field and I was quite happy. During secondary school, I was doing the painting assignments of my classmates. At that time, we were copying the major works, and reproducing them many times had a great impact to improve myself. I studied high school in a completely different department in vocational high school. I would like to talk about it a bit. I was trained in the field of children with special needs (mentally handicapped) from the Department of Child Development and Education and I had a one-year internship. This was a very different but fruitful experience for me. It was a difficult process, but it nourished me a lot. First of all, I learned to be patient, I learned how hard and how much you sacrifice and how much it takes labor to reach something. I realized when you work hard you achieve what you want. And my education at the university has always been my guide. It helped me to create my work discipline.
How did you get acquainted with Art50.net? What are your expectations and feelings about taking part in one of Turkey’s leading art platforms?
Ever since I started university, or even before, I have been closely following the art platforms that would inspire me and would improve me. art50.net was one of these art platforms. I believe, with its high-quality content and professional attitude while representing its artists and their works are rather impressive. With my graduation being close, during the Covid-19 process, I searched and created a to-do list for myself. To be one of the members of art50.net was one of my goals. There is a great team at the back. Rather than formal relationships, a friendly, supportive team that everyone can reach at any time. A beautiful formation that grows together, where artists and the platform support each other.
Are there any artists who inspire you or you follow? If you are given a limitless budget, which artwork would you like to buy?
There are lots of artists who inspire me and whose works I watch frequently, my list will not end by counting here. But I can say, Nancy Spero is one of the artists who inspire me. From more early periods, I can say, Marc Chagall. From Turkey, I would say Levent Oyluçtarhan whom abstract works inspire me a lot. If I am given a huge budget, I would buy many works from the artists I love, not one. But if I think, little emotionally, a Yayoi Kusama would make me very happy right now 🙂
What are your plans for the immediate future? Are there any projects that you have in mind?
I will continue my artistic practice by trying different techniques. I always prefer to produce artworks by using different techniques rather than in a single field with a single technique. When you start producing works in different disciplines, the synergy created by the use of different materials increases creativity. Because sometimes a single field, a single material is not enough to express yourself and your thoughts. You are searching for different materials and techniques. It is a pleasant process for me. I will continue to produce my next projects in various techniques by using different disciplines. I will have different projects soon. I am currently doing my research and in the learning process for these.
Click for the artist page.
Interview: Sena Arcak Bağcılar