ANIL CAN x ART UNLIMITED

I walk a lot in Istanbul. I visit palaces and historical sites again and again like a tourist. Palaces of Istanbul came to life during one of these visits, when I was in a palace where I saw a Coca-Cola refrigerator with plastic chairs. Once I was inside the palace, built 160 years ago for an Ottoman princess, I found myself imagining the life of the time, the guests and the long dinners they had.

Let’s start by talking about your artistic journey. You are a costume designer and art director with 14 years of experience in the fashion industry. What inspired you to become an artist and how did you start making art or how did you realize it?

Let me answer this with a quote by Andy Warhol. Even in his own handwriting…

As Warhol said. “I didn’t think, I did. Someone says it’s art. I can’t stop them.”

 

How does your local culture and environment influence your artistic work? Do the materials and techniques you use in your art find an echo in this network of interaction?

I think “inspiration” is a skill, and I think the rarest skill of all is the ability to be inspired by one’s roots, local environment and create something contemporary out of it. While you reimagine things, you add something of yourself and if you achieve a wow effect at the end of this process, then you have this skill. I don’t know if I have this skill or not, but I keep trying. I carry out these experiments in parallel with digitalization. Instead of watching the old and the new clash, I like to watch them mingle and make love to each other.

 

How does your expertise in art and fashion history, costume design, color theory and cinematic style and your experience in conceptualizing, realizing, and executing with luxury brands, magazines, designers and artists influence your art? How do you or do you separate the creative and commercial dimension?

I don’t really make an effort for that. When I roll up my sleeves to create my own unique stories, I am automatically freed from sectoral collaboration and commercial concerns. I want everything that fascinates me to fascinate and draw in everyone I know and even those I don’t know.

 

The works we saw at Mamut Limited belong to the Palaces of Istanbul series. I would like to talk about this series where you create emotional and retro-futuristic images of people through machine-human communication using artificial intelligence technology. What is the story of this series and how did it start?

I am one of those who are mesmerized by Istanbul like everyone else. Maybe not in its current state… But even in this tarred state, it surprises me every time. I walk a lot in Istanbul. And like a tourist, I visit palaces and historical sites again and again. Palaces of Istanbul came to my mind during one of these trips, when I visited a palace where I saw a Coca-Cola refrigerator and plastic chairs. When I was inside this palace, built 160 years ago for an Ottoman princess, I found myself imagining the life of the time, the guests, the long dinners they had. I tried to ignore these tasteless innovations they made inside by thinking of its history, beauty and glorious times, and this series emerged. I mean, it’s really just a soft drink cabinet and a dozen plastic chairs.

In your question you describe it as “emotional” but I’m not sure if that’s the right definition. I don’t create emotional people, I create “visuals that can touch real emotions through machine-human communication”.

 

For you, is producing a successful work about personal satisfaction or appreciation from the art world?

It is neither of them. I define my work as “visuals that can touch real emotions through machine-human communication.” My definition of success is to see that anything that captures the same feeling as me, that evokes something in me, has the same effect on someone else. I am a very socially closed person. I believe that by turning my work into a “sharing game”, I establish a deeper communication with people.

 

How do you balance the artistic and technical aspects of photography to achieve the results you want?

I think my industry experience comes into play here. Because for me, this is not a subject that needs to be thought long and hard. It’s like this thought has turned into a muscle. It is a reflex I use without thinking.

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