– First of all, can you tell us about yourself?
I am Erman Gürcüm. I am an artist who continues his productions in Istanbul. I graduated from Doğuş University’s Painting Department in 2015 and Yeditepe University’s Plastic Arts Master’s Degree in 2020. Since 2017, I have been continuing my productions in my own studio. My interest in painting was something that started at a very young age for me. This is a curiosity that started with my brother not taking me with him while painting. I usually produce my works with oil paint on canvas and pattern on paper. In my recent works, I focus on the concepts included in the ‘Vanitas’ painting idea.Thank you for being with me for 1 Wall Exhibition.
– Did the creation process of your works begin with the Vanitas tradition?
When I started my art education, we can say that my understanding of painting started to take shape with technical and theoretical knowledge. Like every artist, I wanted to focus on the subjects I wanted to explore; I wanted to get into the deep stuff. When I encountered the Vanitas way of thinking, I understood better what subjects I wanted to focus on, and this way of thinking has form a basis for me. I also build on that basis what I have seen and what I want to convey.
-In the tradition of ‘Vanitas’, the main subject was shaped by some kind of purpose such as the transience of the world and directing people to the right path. What message do you want to add by adapting this tradition to the contemporary art scene?
The Vanitas way of thinking is a mentality that has existed since the 17th century. It is possible to see this understanding in figure, still life and genre paintings. As with other works of art, the period in which these works were produced was one-to-one with their social, economic and cultural issues.
Continuing this tradition in the contemporary art environment and performing a painting in accordance with this tradition brings a very appropriate criticism to today’s consumption age.
– What effect did using skull symbols as your self-portrait had on your works?
The desire to use the skull objects as my own self-portrait actually stems from the desire to include myself in the artwork. Like any artist, the artworks are something that belongs to me. I prefer to present myself to the audience. Of course, the manifest brought by the skull object goes beyond being both me and myself. I use the storytelling in my works to strengthen the connection between the audience and the work.
– Can we learn the reason for naming your exhibition as “Bon Appetit”?
For this exhibition, I wanted to examine the issues of destiny and choices. Of course, I wanted to present these topics to the audience in my own style. The reason why I describe human life, as an empty plate, is actually to question, do we decide what will or will not come our way from the moment we are born, or do they come to us ready-made? I wanted to explore such concepts in my work. While setting up the fiction, I have adjusted the perspective to a full horizon in the serving picture, and the empty plate is in a position waiting on the table under full service. Here, I want the audience to put whatever they want to put on the plate in their imagination, from what is served. But there is also such a paradox; the presentation is clear, it’s clear what you need to get. You can have all of them, or you may not have the right to choose. I actually want the viewer to ask themselves by looking at the picture. I think that with this interaction, the work enables the audience to have different meanings. For this purpose, I wanted to make a painting in which the viewer is also involved. I think that the death metaphor of the skull and the critical nature of Vanitas put both the audience and the work in a better position on these concepts.