Erkut Terliksiz is an innovative artist, who is interested in many different art forms. He has participated in many personal and group exhibitions in Australia, England, Spain and Germany. For Terliksiz creating is more important than the medium. Let's drop by the artist's studio in Nisantasi and visit the artist’s subconscious, which finds a place for itself to live from a wall to an object which he has collected off the streets.
Painter, illustrator, designer, adman… Who actually is Erkut Terliksiz, could you tell us a bit about him?
This is a challenging question for me too actually – they say people want to be referred to by what they do, not who they are. I prefer that too. Although the things I do may seem different, they have a common basis, “to be creative”. Whether I work on an ad campaign or a design project, I always try to challenge myself and the boundaries. I have always chosen the difficult way – the easy way seems boring and dull to me. There are times when I make simple ideas more complicated in my narrative and try telling more through them. There are even times when I make the simple things difficult just to spite them. Conscious or not, I try to catch these contrasts.
How did you start drawing? How did it become indispensable for you?
Bit of a cliché but true; my pencils, paper and crayons were like toys to me since my early ages. I had Star Wars and He-Man action figures and my older brother’s old Matchbox cars. I played with all of them. But none of them replaced painting for me. I had a realm of my own. And I really got lost in it for hours on end. You know how some kids have an imaginary friend? I had hundreds! :) My grandmother still remembers, “you used to play with your toys like movies; I loved watching you, you always had a story line.” Princess Leia of Star Wars would be kidnapped by the villains of He-Man… Then I would paint, burn those figures. My favorite thing to do was to scrape off the paint of the Matchbox cars and recolor them to my heart’s desire.
How did you manage to create the time and motivation to paint after coming home from a long and busy day at the ad agency?
Sometimes I miss those days. Advertising is another area in which I can be quite creative. There are many people I meet, lots of stories, ways of behavior. The pace of the advertising world is really fast. You have to constantly race against time, fit a lot into a limited amount of time. As this cycle continues, you get tired after a while. Painting was my salvation. When I was working at the agency I had the chance to clear my head at my studio and start the day refreshed. Mentally, this felt good for me. Of course, there is the physical fatigue. There were times I couldn’t paint at all for months due to hard work at the agency. And when I finally got into my studio, I would lose myself. A whole other dimension :)
Could you tell us a bit about your graphic design work?
I could begin by mentioning the children’s theatre play posters I designed for Devlet Tiyatroları(Turkish State Theatres) with Esen Karol – whom I loved very much even as a pupil, who helped me take my first steps into “experimentality”. Not to mention my Illustration teacher Haluk Tuncay, knocking out all my existing knowledge on illustration and changing my perspective. Then I met Yurdaer Altıntaş and Bülent Erkmen. To tell the truth, your masters are what shape you. And if you can build on top of it, then you’re done. :) Afterwards, I met Paul McMillen of RPM-Radar. The idea of becoming an art director at an advertising agency really excited me. During the time I worked there, I designed the corporate identity of İstanbul Modern, aka Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and all its communication. I worked with Tina Frank in Vienna. Through her, I created some designs for Mego, an independent, experimental electronical music label. I participated in the Computerlove Offline Exhibition, to see my name on the poster designed by the English legend Michael C. Place/Build – former partner of Designers Republic. That lead to an exhibition invitation from Vasava. Place Project – 35 designers, 35 cities. It was an incredible project; they sent a luggage of materials that you could express your creativity with. Each designer was supposed to tell his/her city in their own style and film it. First it was displayed in CCCB and then went on to other countries as well.
After canvas and walls, the characters from your subconscious have moved to different materials that you collect from the street. How did this process occur?
I guess it evolved from my love of trying new and different materials, like I was just talking about. I’m trying to escape from what is normal and standard. Of course, there is no end to this – with time, even this running away itself could become a repetition and routine. I can’t deny it’s a bit arbitrary, either.
The process began simply enough. Taking a piece of wood or a headboard to my workshop instead of buying a canvas is another experience for me. Each object I collect has a story. (Carrying them to my studio with their stickers or stains, their own stories and textures gave me a whole other excitement).
There are lots of times when it’s impossible to paint, too. But that has become a part of my creating process. Scraping off the industrial coating, or combining those scrapings with another surface and creating new textures has become a passion. It’s been a while since I’ve bought a canvas. To be honest, lately I’ve began missing it a bit. In October, I will have a new studio at Galata. Being in a large studio with a high ceiling is going to be a first for me. I cannot wait to find out how it’s going to reflect on my work!
Do your neighbors come knocking at your door to see what you turned their unwanted belongings into?
Actually, I would love them to. It could be interesting for them to find out what had happened to the items they had kicked out of their houses somehow. :)
Your paintings and illustrations have striking, poignant names, ''The Same Subject From Three Different Aspects'' and ''I'm the Reason of Everything in Your Mind''. How did you combine words with your work?
I guess naming is intuitional. I have notebooks in which I write all the time. I scribble all the time like a poet. Those are reflections of my mood. During those times, most paintings I work on are flying through my mind, too. Images can also turn into language when I encounter a painting. But not necessarily. Sometimes I say things just for the fun of it. It could be the tiniest detail, a particle of the story I tell in my painting. It becomes a contact. Of course, there are times when this doesn’t happen.
How do you know when a painting is over? Is it instinctive?
Frankly, I don’t know. :) Maybe it’s totally instinctive.
You have participated in many exhibitions throughout the world, visited many countries. You even lived in London for a bit. How is your relationship with İstanbul? Are there and other cities you dream of living in?
To be honest, İstanbul doesn’t really excite me these days. There isn’t a specific place I want to live in, but I would like to see countries I haven’t been to yet, places different from what we’re used to. Going out of your comfort zone, seeing and experiencing different cultures is really nurturing.
Last but not least, do you have any new projects or exhibition plans?
Artinternational , Contempo
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