Written by Deianira Tolema
Artist and mathematician, Ceylan Kaya plays with the juxtaposition of East and West, collective culture and individuality, art and mathematics in her complex and vibrant paintings. In each piece, Kaya explores the world as entomologist Ernst Jünger once suggested: “You can not understand science by standing on the ground of science. You should have a look at it from the angle of an öartist.” Mathematics is always quite visible in her art, especially as it relates to the Möbius strip, that classic, unorientable surface. Her paintings are just as unoriented, meant to be viewed from the whole to the specific, and from the specific to the whole. What is not visible from one side can be seen from another as the painting is rotated. No Kaya painting is a single picture, meant to be viewed only once. Instead, each painting holds multiple energy loads and should be viewed again and again as their themes morph and emerge. The Spanish poet, Jaime B. Rosa, described her work as “crisalida,” the metamorphosis of the butterfly from worm to winged being, a perfect metaphor for Kaya’s desire to transform reality into something new and more beautiful. She feels that her purpose is to raise the frequency of the world through her energy-and love-loaded works of art and that viewers can receive this energy and participate in global change making.
You are from and live in Turkey. How does your work relate to its historical heritage?
Everywhere you go in Turkey (Anatolia and Thrace), you will find artwork of the past. I feel that people are born into this history without choice; that everyone is born, naturally, into a cultural environment.
How did you first get into art-making? Were you encouraged to make art by your parents, a mentor, or anyone else?
One of my teachers was a poet who advised and directed me into the world of art. Thanks to this teacher, I started to have a passion towards painting. In addition, my parents have always had a close tie with art, especially my mother (Turkish women, in general, are considered artists.). But my influences were not only personal – they were also related to culture and heritage. Turkey has one of the most vibrant cultures in the world, and Anatolia is one of its most fertile provinces. So many familiar poems, tales, and narratives come from this region. Wherever you look, you will see history. It is this historical and cultural richness that filled my eyes, provoking an artistic outlook on the world, an outlook which allows me to visualize my pictures.
Please tell us more about Turkish contemporary art: what institutions should we know of when visiting Istanbul, and is your work influenced by its cultural context, or is it the other way around?
In Turkey, if you ever research or speak to people about contemporary art, the first thing that needs to be discussed is the legacy of earlier Turkish artists. Much has been written about our famous painters – Seker Ahmet Pasha, Abidin Dino, Devrim Erbil, Mr. Osman Hamdi, Fikret Mualla. I walked in their path, but with a unique twist, an attempt to offer something new. The light in most western painting comes from a specific place. In the east, light comes from everywhere. Though my work is from an eastern imagination, the light in my art brings together east and west.
How does the education of an artist work in your country? Is your government helping you in any way?
Turkey is a highly developed country that supports and sustains all forms of art. Training is, of course, available in all art forms from literature and classical poetry to art and architecture, all governed by the highest standards.
Do you consider yourself a professional, and how do you fit in the academic world as well as the current art-market?
I consider myself a professional in my field of work, but I stay away from the academic outlook of art. The academy creates borders in which perceptions and opinions become fixed, and they prevent us from seeing more. I am a free person with a free spirit. When I paint, my thoughts are free. However, this freedom requires deep knowledge. I am firmly against the paintings selected via the governing bodies, as I don’t think the market demands this type of art.
Does your work also reflect your personal thought and research, and what does that revolve around, exactly?
My pictures are unique, though brought to life from in-depth research of other painters and their work. My paintings bring together my relationship with art around the world and present my artistic outlook.
What are your expectations for the future?
The poet Metin Cengiz once said,“The past is far, the future is near.” If the future is near, what should I expect? We shall wait and see. All my focus and belief is in working hard. As Voltaire once expressed, we must work to make our garden beautiful.
Do you see yourself more as a local artist or as an internationally-renowned creative always keeping an eye on the latest trends?
I see myself only as a painter, international or local. Of course, there are aesthetic and artistic criteria. But where are the critics? To whom can I look and to what trend? Is it possible that such determiners are primarily in the hands of painters who are lazy, lethargic, money traders? Everyone is looking for money to earn, and that, unfortunately, reduces aesthetic standards. But if positioning myself is an aesthetic, artistic prerogative, I would say that I see myself as universal.
Do you have any events coming up, or is it too early for you to think about that?
I do not draft, and and it currently does not interest me. However, I don’t know what the future will bring. Maybe one day I can create with a vision of serialism and consistency. I’m not ready just yet.
Do you have a message for your readers?
It’s nice for my followers to see through my eyes and meet me in a world which I have built. I love my followers. I have just a single message for them: Do not allow your world to change – change the world yourselves.