Tutku Bulutbeyaz is a Turkish artist based in Istanbul whose compositions evoke a sense of contradiction and intrigue. Bulutbeyaz’s collages juxtapose the contemporary and the traditional as he creatively represents the polarisation of the Western and Eastern worlds. His intricate designs are multi-layered in terms of content and meaning as his work makes a subtle comment on the political and social landscape of the 21st century.
Interview with the artist
You studied at Hacettepe University, Turkey. What did you study and how was your experience as a student?
Yes, I studied painting in the Faculty of Fine Arts, Hacettepe University. I may say that generally the teachers weren’t fond of me. I learned/improved more by hanging out and painting with friends than by lectures.
What is it like being an artist in Turkey? Does Istanbul have room for emerging artists like yourself?
I think it’s harder for an artist in Turkey, there is a smaller group of art followers than European or Japanese countries, ones that have well-matured culture.
Istanbul has room for artists but you have to work with galleries to sell your work, earn a living. As an independent artist like me, this happens less easily.
Your collage work juxtaposes contemporary and classical art. Could you explain some of the themes and meanings of your work?
INVASION, one of my latest collage series, is based on today’s mundane culture consisting of mutual accumulations and it’s affirmation/glamorisation of plunder and pillage. The image created for western culture since Renaissance has been represented by museums. Museums are the most irreplaceable, untouchable institutions, with officers that look like they’re in some Wes Anderson movie, or institutions that would be headlines if an artwork would have some dust on it. Though the same western culture is indifferent and vulgar to any culture other than itself… The latest examples were in Iraq in 2003 or the Syrian civil war. INVASION, for that matter is a symbolic confrontation.
Do you think art can inform politics and/or culture?
Yes of course, it affects politics and culture considerably. For example, Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People painting was just taken out from history books in Turkish public schools. Erdoğan’s government does not want to see such freedom or democracy this painting evokes.
What is the purpose of art for you?
I think it exists to make all good things more visible and the world more liveable.
Who inspires you?
Mostly I get inspired more from daily situations and experiences, rather than people. Still I think the post-industrialisation period and especially artworks that came after 1945 are the best references to seize art today. I am a fan of Toulouse Lautrec’s approach for sketches, I resemble him in that matter. Rauschenberg’s assemblage and collages, especially his Black Market work, George Segal’s The Bus Driver which he produced in 1962 and Jean-Michel Basquiat are names I go back to see from time to time.
Where do you see your art practice and theory headed? Do you have any new projects that you’re working on?
I may not make a projection on the future for now, probably I’ll continue to create stuff referencing daily happenings.
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