In her paintings, Gözde Başkent examines the concepts that are invisible and difficult to perceive with the mind through the timeless and placeless compositions. Başkent explores the state of being human through the relationship with nature by applying different techniques with which she reaches calmness with her color palette and creates diversity on the surface of her canvases. She also collects pieces such as stones, branches, and feathers from nature as reminders in her artistic production, and we had a conversation about her relationship with nature, her paintings, and her routines.
Gözde Başkent completed her undergraduate and graduate education at Mimar Sinan University Painting Department. During 2008-2009, he studied at the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts.
In your paintings, you deal with concepts such as distance, cycle, life-death between man and nature. Is there a reason to reflect this relationship through the image of women? As a woman artist, can we identify these images depicted as you?
There is a curiosity towards known and unknown situations of being human rather than gender emphasis on the issues I deal with. The fact that the figures depicted on the composition appear as a woman can, of course, be considered as the representation of the artist. In my works, it motivates me to think about the concepts that are independent of time and space, which arises the curiosity of mankind since its existence, and that the human mind has difficulty in comprehending. These are mostly open-ended narratives, and the audience’s personal experience stratifies the narrative that is always there.
When I look at the paintings, on the relationship between nature and humans, while the image of women used in some is powerful, and in some, woman figures dissolve into nature, so would it be possible to consider these visual impossibilities as symbols? To be strong, to be one with nature, to identify with it, to cure it or vice versa?
The figures that are perceived as “powerful” actually have a state of “being”. I think this is real power. I try to believe that we strive to be superior to nature, a concept that I have difficulty in understanding, but we cannot live in harmony with nature. These are the contradictions that I think people experience a sense of attachment to nature. Pessimism can be inevitable when you can’t take a step without harming the planet we live in.
In terms of technique, you use wood instead of canvas in your paintings, is there any reason to use this material and use the cold blue color in dominantly?
I had a very traditional education mainly based on oil painting. Afterward, I realized that this technique was not the most suitable technique for me during the development of my style. After a trial-error-learning process, the smooth and organic surface of the wood compared to the canvas came forward as a surface that allows me to work in detail in layers. Likewise, acrylic, which I started using instead of oil painting, is also suitable for this. Although acrylic is a more recent medium compared to oil painting, the use of wood flashes back to the past in the history of art. I proceeded with the possibilities of these two materials. It also allows me to create different surfaces by cutting and adding wood. I use the canvas and wood alternately according to the requirements and size of the painting.
The color blue, especially ultramarine, is a color I use all the time. Like wood, ultramarine has an important place in the history of art. Regardless of this, cold colors in my work are a means of expression for the calm, sometimes moody, introverted atmosphere that I want to create.
Can you explain your daily routine?
Although I prefer to work at night, since my studio is located in an inn with opening-closing hours, I adjust my working times accordingly. I have a very isolated work routine since the hours I am in the studio are limited, I can say that I complete most workdays without seeing anyone other than the birds I feed on my window. When I have to finish a painting ready in time, I make adjustments so that I can work at night. I also take the time to work with different materials in more comfortable periods.
How is your relationship with nature? Do you have plants? Do you go to nature?
As I mentioned in the previous question, I am one of the people who feel a commitment to nature. I have lots of plants and a small garden. I participated in a gardening course last year and it is an effort that I want to spend more time with growing, reproducing, watching the seeds to grow. Likewise, I started tent camping to spend more time in nature. I also like collecting elements from nature and keeping them in my living spaces as a reminder; like cicada shells, branches, stones, bird feathers, and seeds… For example, I have a bee that I have been hiding for more than 15 years in my studio.
Do you have a ‘bedside’ book that you read over and over, and do not ever leave at all?
Ernst Gombrich’s Story of Art, which I think most people interested in art will also know, is the first book that comes to my mind and is appropriate to this definition.
Is there an artist that you admire his/her work and identify with yourself? Who are the artists you follow from other disciplines?
There are many artists from different disciplines that I follow. If I only need to make a list from current artists; Andrew Hem, Esao Andrews, Keita Morimoto, Allison Sommers, and Stephanie Brown who is also a tattoo artist as well. And from illustrators; Julia Sarda, Carson Ellis, Isabelle Arsenault, Rebecca Green, Felicita Sala, Jon Klassen, Levi Pinfold are the first ones that come to my mind.
If you are given a huge budget and could only buy one work with this budget, who and which work would you buy? Why?
If I could buy only a single work, this would be the Garden of Worldly Pleasures of Hieronymus Bosch. It is a masterpiece that you should take a lot of time to examine.
You have been working with art50.net for a long time, what do you think about your collaboration? What are the opportunities of taking place in one of Turkey’s leading platform for art?
My relationship with art50.net, which I have been working with for a long time, has always been positive and instructive. In addition to being a well-rounded art platform, art50.net is an important example with its structure supporting the artists within its body and establishing intimate relationships with them.
What kind of future do you dream of in your career? Where and how do you put yourself in ten years?
In addition to my paintings, I devote a significant part of my time to illustration these days. I have completed and ongoing book projects. I always had a close relationship with illustration, and my master thesis was on the painting-illustration relationship. It is a motivation to improve my practice in this field, to include this new way in my career, in a way that allows me to look at the paintings with a different eye. In the future, I plan to develop these two similar but different disciplines by feeding each other.
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Interview: Sena Arcak Bağcılar