MAİDE A. PETEK x ART UNLIMITED

While painting, I started to learn about the characteristics of plants and animals like a naturalist and observe them more carefully as I started to deal with miniature, which is an old art branch. Because when you try to paint something, you see that it has details that you have never noticed before.

Let’s start by talking about your artistic journey. You completed your bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture at TU Wien and you work in the field of architecture in Istanbul. What inspired you to become an artist and how did you start making art? Do you pursue architecture and art at the same time, how does your practice combine with your profession?

One of the main reasons I chose architecture is my fascination with art and geometry. I had a passion for painting from a very young age. While studying architecture, my ability to draw and design always gave me an advantage. In Vienna, I used to go to museums whenever I had the chance. I would stand for minutes in front of the paintings of great masters from different periods such as Pieter Bruegel, Egon Schiele, Anton Peschka, Modigliani, Emil Nolde, Marc Chagall, and I would deeply feel how unique they were and “the desire to enter into a painting”. Painting is an existential means of expression for me. Apart from my own department, I attended lectures in art history and Angewandte Kunst. My master’s thesis advisor Will Alsop was also a painter and architect. In my thesis on the Musical Instrument Museum, I made use of miniatures used to recreate classical Turkish instruments. As I researched and analyzed, I found myself in the fascinating world of miniature. My desire to learn miniature, which uses all the poetry of primitiveness in terms of color, texture, form, and composition, was realized when I returned to Istanbul. I started a miniature course at the Hekimoğlu Alipaşa Külliyesi Library, which is decorated with architectural and pencil details on weekends. I was so excited and desirous that sometimes when I bought a new color, I would try it on the subway before I got home. After about two years, I left the course and decided to continue my art practice individually. Since I work full-time in an architectural office during the weekdays, it takes longer to complete the miniatures, so I have to use my time more efficiently, I definitely work a little bit every evening. Sometimes it is not difficult, architecture is also a tiring profession that requires dedication, but this is one of the subjects that nourishes me. I believe in the healing aspect of art and architecture in human life, I feel purified and lightened when I mix colors freely and draw with the brush.

 

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?

According to historians, we only know 3% of our own civilization. Even the part that is known has many details that have not yet been touched or read and it is exciting. I like to recreate the places I have seen or want to see, the places in my dreams in my compositions. Architecture, cinema, literature, music, historical and social events are my main sources of inspiration. When I watch a movie, some scenes stay in my mind for a long time, and I experiment with ways of reinterpreting them in a two-dimensional scene with a symbolic approach. Since each discipline and practice is very different from each other, I try to develop my own simple, fairy-tale, surreal style.

 

After experiencing design processes in digital environments due to the profession of architecture, you present a simple and symbolic narrative by using the primitiveness and naivety of miniature art, which is far from this. Can you tell us about what attracted you to this contrast?

Technology has accelerated us and provided us with opportunities in many fields, but we have also become a bit primitive. Instead of understanding nature and the essence of human beings, we started to watch it on a screen presented to us. While painting, I started to learn about the characteristics of plants and animals like a naturalist and observe them more carefully as I started to deal with miniature, which is an old art branch. Because when you try to paint something, you see that it has details that you have never noticed before.

Technically, there are drawing programs that are close to hand drawing. However, I produce work as a human being first and foremost and I think that my approach, my feelings are unique and I do not adopt a perfectionist understanding in painting, competing with digital. My hand may shake, my paint may run out, the tip of my brush may be deformed, all of these are part of the journey of the work. Some of my works have my cat’s paw print, I continue to use the passepartout because I think it adds meaning to the memory of the work.

 

The works we see at Mamut Limited belong to the series Waiting Without Expectation. We see a series that focuses on moments of waiting and each work is unique. Can you share the story of this series?

The expression “Waiting Without Expectation” belongs to the poet İsmet Özel, there are many waits in human life. Sometimes short-term, sometimes long-term waits. Death can also be considered as a big wait… In my life, it was a period when I was always waiting for something and at the same time, I reduced my “expectation”. In each portrait of this series, which focuses on spatial details, interior architecture, and decorative elements during the moment of waiting, I utilized one of our traditional arts. They met with the audience under the titles of Tiling, Carpentry, Pencil Work, Wood carving, Edirnekâri and Stone carving. I depicted the Edirne Muradiye Mosque Tiles, the first of the characters depicted in the moment of waiting, as the border of a cafe. Unfortunately, some of the blue and white tiles, which were developed in a different style from the previous ones, were destroyed and stolen in 2001. I wanted to emphasize this sad situation as a reminder of our cultural heritage memory by depicting the lost pieces as a white space. We see a depiction of a woman with her coffee cooling in the porcelain cup she holds in her hand, her eyes closed, lost in thought between sleep and wakefulness, focused on the architectural and conceptual details in the moment of waiting, rather than the arrival of the main fiction.

 

What does the sense of naivety in your work mean to you?

It is a gift of miniature, but it can also be a reflection of my own character on my brush. In every aspect, I have a sensitive, sensitive nature that pays attention to details and likes to hide them, and this sense of naivety can be seen in my works.

 

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

Rollo May mentions in The Courage to Create: “With our contact with the painting, a new zeitgeist of appearance is discharged in us; something unique is born in us. This is the reason why evaluating the painting, music or other works of the creator is a creative act for us as well.” Success in a work of art is the continuity of the creative act. We feel a personal satisfaction after completing a painting, but the creative act continues when it meets the viewer.

 

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

Since miniature is the art of illustrating a book, more than one event and character can be portrayed in the same scene, without any concern for realism. In terms of scale, I can portray what I want to make the expression strong like a fairy tale illustration. We can see an example of this in my miniature Emotional Conversation, in which I depict a girl who wants to isolate herself from her surroundings, chatting with a robin above the clouds.

In the miniatures I work on cinema, I am inspired by the director’s use of certain colors and light in each scene, and I stick to those primary colors to make the narrative simple and poetic.

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