A few days ago I went to visit Engin Konuklu’s second solo in X-ist Gallery and 4th solo altogether. This is the second show I’ve seen by the young artist who works and lives in İzmir and I’ve been following his works since then. He has a melancholic style with a yearning for the past and his technique is exceptional.
He uses airbrush to paint from photographs and some of his works really do look like largely printed images. The exhibition is called Home and it focuses on past memories. The theme of the exhibition is mainly about the word “nostalgia” and where it actually derives from. Nostalgia, which was considered as a disease in the 17th century, defines the state when in all those years of wars, genocides and epidemics, people’s yearning for home reached an intolerable extent and a fatal melancholy engulfed them.
I SEE THAT YOU WORKED AS PORTRAIT FIGURES. ALL WORKS ARE BLACK AND WHITE (AGAIN) AND ALL YOUR SUBJECTS ARE DEAD (AGAIN). CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE FEELING OF THE WORKS?
ENGIN: Nostalgia was a term used in the medical field and today it has a total different meaning. It was a disease back then. While working on this series I focused on Nostalgia and the yearning for belonging.
I chose figures from the cinema industry like Judy Garland as well as figures from random family albums of people that I know. The feeling of yearning is a collective emotion whereas the one that to be yearned for is always singular. That is why they are portraits of single figures.
WHAT WAS YOUR TURNING POINT THAT ENDED UP IN AN ADMIRATION TO THE PAST?
ENGIN: Well at first I was thinking about the design and aesthetical beauty the past had for all things. Then I thought about the general public view that the past was much more different than today. Then I came to the solution that the past might be an escape from the present and the future altogether.
ENGIN: Well, if you can’t place yourself in the present day and if you know that the future will never bring you the sincerity that the past has, you prefer the past. Just like in Svetlana Boym’s book “The Future of Nostalgia” she asks, can a person ever miss a house that she never lived in? She explains how nostalgia doesn’t have a state of belonging. It can even be felt for the future. This book also really affected me.
DO YOU ALSO ESCAPE TO THE PAST OTHER THAN YOUR ARTS?
ENGIN: Yes, I guess. I feel great sympathy towards the past, I think I caught an emotion there which I personally can’t find in the present day. I have a 1954 model motorcycle for example. Apparently my motorcycle was previously owned by a woman who helped give birth to the women of the village. This already makes me think the moments she had on that bike, these feelings give me a very unique thrill.
WOW, IT’S LIKE A 60 YEAR OLD BIKE, DOES IT REALLY WORK AS GOOD STILL?
ENGIN: Not really, it broke down a few times so I had to give up on it. Even nostalgia sometimes can have a limit 🙂
HOW MANY WORKS ARE YOU SHOWING IN THIS SOLO?
ENGIN: I think it’s 12 or 13.
I MUST SAY I LOVE YOUR TECHNIQUE.
ENGIN: Thank you. It’s actually just like painting except you use an airbrush with acrylic paint. It has it’s advantages as well as disadvantages too.
Engin Konuklu’s second solo exhibition entitled “Home” can be viewed until November 26, 2016 at x-ist.