“Could you make a painting of happiness, Abidin?” Asked Nazim Hikmet in a poem to the artist Abidin Dino.
My recent work is about the fleeting moments of pure joy and happiness. I create paintings addressing the ephemerality of happiness while using balloons or inflatables as a metaphor for our short lived contentment.
As a little girl I have been watching olympic figure skating on TV, painting Katarina Witt and dreaming about skating, but there was no ice rinks in Turkey at that time. I was also making paintings of Lady Diana as she was the only real princess that I knew of. I guess I have always been attracted to figurative painting.
After some tragic events my priorities was shaken. My cousin is murdered by a man she knew. She was a ballerina, 23 years old, I was 20. I was only able to cry when Princess Diana died three months later. Two years later 7.4 magnitude earthquake killed tens of thousands people in the city I was living. Chaos, tents, daily survival followed with every day listening more unbelievable tragedies. Injustice, inequality, corruption, conservatism, everything became unbearable. First I quit my job as a landscape architect and went back to school for painting. Then I left everything; family, friends, my dream school, and immigrated.
Maybe it was an escape, migrating to the other side of the Atlantic. Might be the hope for more freedom. Or just to start over. I believe all the interactions and stimulations brought by my passion for a new start, and longing for what was left behind constantly feed my creative process. As an immigrant hope is luring, longing is recurring and loneliness is scary.
While dealing with longing, and craving for emotional comfort my art become about that place in time of forgetting everything beyond that mutual emotional paradise. I started to ask myself what makes me keep going? How was it to be feeling happy? What makes me happy? What makes me forget everything else? The answer is simple, love and trust. Seeing the lonely faces of crowds every day; it is for sure our most basic need.
I use vivid colors and create scenes of serene moments away from any kind of negativity. It is actually a pessimistic way of looking at relationships and life itself through colorful and festive settings. The plastic symbols of false sense of security I include in my work questions our constant drive for satisfaction and pleasure. We surround ourselves with these commodities and pretend we are safe and content.
The more recent multiple figure paintings explore abundance versus emotional craving. Observing both the loneliness and need for attention, accompanied with consumerism frenzy globally, my art evolved from being about my own personal crisis and longing, to observing the universal emotional state, especially ahead of the climate crisis. I started including more figures representing the possible 'last generation' that consumes recklessly and abundantly. At the same time these might be the ancestors of the generations that will constantly struggle for survival. Almost like a history painting for the future generations aftermath of the climate crisis; a way of showing how their ancestors were lost in themselves.
Nevertheless I want to create a niche of fantasy, where both the figures and I as the painter can be just like a child, carefree and playful. A visual playground far away from all the darkness enclosing us outside and inside, blossomed through sincerity and trust. Surrounded with balloons and toys, the adults immerse themselves into reckless joy and delightful intimacy defining contentment. But they are still aware of the short lifespan of that perfect harmony that will pop like a balloon soon.