Seçil Alkış: You’ve had 3 solo exhibitions so far, and your fourth solo show will take place in New York in January. How is the intellectual and practical process of working on a show?
Murat Pulat: We’re talking about a presentation imprisoned between the walls… In the process of preparing for an exhibition, you have to go beyond the specific gallery space and think also about all the other things that encapsulate the exhibition. I really don’t know yet, how it works.
S.A.: We’ll be able to see most of your recent work in the New York exhibition. You’ve utilized more illusions and color transitions in some of the works. Can we talk about your recent works?
M.P.: I don’t think the surface of a painting is different from that of a wall. As I’m busy working on other things, everybody thinks and talks about the paintings. For example I’m trying to grow a lemon tree. I inhale the leaf and it makes me sad. For me, actually, painting is one of the pieces of that make up the whole. I try to clear my life of the things that suppress us, as much as I can; this works very well. These days, people have begun to play with imagery. Images are really effective; it’s actually what I want to show people, share with them; before and after the exhibition. What they call virtual, effects the human psychology and its sociological structure. Masses take part in art even though they are not themselves artists; some don’t even think about it. The people working with imagery are thus closer to us through the utilization of art in this context, through its intervention on its utilization.
S.A.: Your first three shows were in Istanbul. This is the first time you’re exhibiting in another city. What does this mean to you?
M.P.: Istanbul and New York are just cities. What are cities? They are the sum of the perspectives on them. From which perspective should one look at Istanbul? I wanted to walk around like Orhan Veli; really. To feel the city, to walk around like that. To take part in the city somehow; no matter how passive or active. One day a man said that he saw the sea and then he saw other things in it. Why am I telling this, because I feel responsible for the sum of various things. What I want to do is not to make science out of it, but to create other situations, to come up with other perspectives.
As I said, to leave is just a part of it. The thing is, we all get up in the morning an do things. And surely I impose more work to a person who gets up before me and does things. A memory about my mother; for example as I was a student, our apartment was very close to my school. Everybody would get up early in the morning, but for me there was something else involved. I found it problematic to get up early as I would get very tired during the day and spend my time at school which I thought was very limited. Despite all this, I would get up the moment they would touch me. I didn’t know why I did this. What was the thing that made me get up even though I didn’t want to?
For me actually, the early situation or rather an instinct, and maybe the pre-experiment period is to solve this problem. I surely impose more work to who gets up before I do, and does things. Everything would be easy if one more person were to get up. Somebody else will pick up the glass and come. It will be faster and no one will be late for school; and then things will follow after that. I’d like to see things from a collective perspective. What you come upon in the street; let’s say a beggar’s idea, for example the merge of a coffee shop in the corner and the florist; all these are the combination of ideas. We can say it’s how life is, but it’s not, it’s something that just becomes a part of us continuously.
S.A.: When you consider both the context and the commercial part, Istanbul and New York are two very different cities, how important is this for you? The usual example: when we make an exhibition here, it’s very difficult to have somebody write an article about it, on the other hand, the simplest exhibition in New York is accompanied by many articles.
It’s a serious world, it’s a market that’s criticized quite often…
M.P.: As Van Gogh chased crows in the fields, he would always say: ”i have to go, I need to catch up with something”. Concerning where he’s going, he says that “crows seem to be following me”. He works under the sun so much that he almost paints the whole world. He’s left standing with his canvas in his hand. This situation is actually the same as the loop that we call the market. Another situation showing the situation of Van Gogh. These can sound crazy but all this has something to do with the world. To go somewhere, to move. It’s not just New York that’s my choice; for example it’s similar to traveling to Izmir.
S.A.: Contemporary art and the exhibition of works demand a comprehensive perspective and its spatial context beyond that. How do your works relate to one another and the space?
M.P.: I actually know that some of my works relate to space. Something important for me has happened. I had chosen a work to be exhibited at an auction. It’s a still from an Hitchcock movie (surprised woman), there was a scene in which a woman is screaming in the bath. A photo taken during the exhibition of this painting was more important than the work itself. It was like the scream of a woman who was complaining about the current situation. Thus the work began to work by itself.
S.A.: Is there such a thing in your New York exhibition?
M.P.: There was this movie “Mean Streets” starring Robert de Niro; and also “Breathless”… An image from the past can be inclusive. This name includes a few directors, the directors that came after them and even other things. What I’m trying to say is, of course America was there, Hitchcock was there. Some just see the movie, but there’s something which is the subject of intervention; some call it the motive or a portrait made up of numbers and letters. Here is a movie that’s much older than the work itself, but it becomes a part of the New York exhibition the moment it touches. For example the work I created for the gallery window is no more a painting for me, it’s a collection of letters within the emptiness that encapsulates the space. Something is turning into a wall there. My imagery is the walls of that gallery.
S.A.: Can we state is this way? The important thing is: after you create the works, they begin to live and work the moment they’re shown and have a connection with the viewer.
M.P.: It works here as well. I’m talking about a simple thing in my life. I sometimes put my paintings in my bedroom. One day when I woke up, I saw something screaming. I jumped out of the bed. The moment I open my eyes, right in front of me is a screaming woman that looks like a real portrait because of the perspective. What we call imagery is nothing other than the ideas that we see in daily life. The more perspectives I have, the more i see. Images are a kind of simulation, but we shouldn’t be afraid of them.
S.A.: Art is now much more complex than it used to be; on the one hand there are more opportunities, on the other hand young artists experience a lot of tension and tiresome processes. As an artist whose work is well known, what did you experience? What are your suggestions to new artists?
M.P.: A few weeks ago, a group of tourists tried to take a photo in the train in the Haydarpaşa Station, and three of them were struck by the high-voltage line. This event is unfortunately the result of the lack of care of authorities.
This is actually a work, an effort. The more we try, the more we’ll make our lives better. This is valid for a manager in a train station, or a shipyard. One needs to look at it from a complex perspective.
I don’t only want to talk about artists. We can really make this the rationale of art. But it can also be its tension. In short; it has to resist. Resist. If they care one bit about their freedom…
The word “resistance” has become a little too popular in Turkey, I think concepts die when they become popular. Like Che Guevara posters. Empty.
S.A.: You say that images lose their effect as they become popular. Isn’t Marylin Monroe one of the most popular images of the world? We see her often in your works, I’m really curious why.
M.P.: Sometimes the image itself doesn’t represent its own sub-connections. I saw Marylin for the first time when I was a child. I felt she became a part of my inner identity. This may sound too assertive, but it’s as simple as that. This is now a mixture that depends on the outer world within the first species. It’s not different from how sun causes the skin to become darker. When we see a movie, we don’t remember many things from a million scenes. Why is it that some images remain, even though we forget other things? Why do some things cause us to shiver in the night, begin to remember with them, combine with them, why do they remind us of being afraid of the dark? This is a sensitive area. All the things you come upon as you dream… If you become aware of it, you can change it. The moment you understand it, you begin to come up with ideas. I don’t attempt to put something out, but let’s just say that some things combine, they cause each other to multiply and transform the image; in other words hybrid images emerge.
What I want, isn’t to direct the situation by saying things before the exhibition. The encounters and circulations haven’t even begun. We’re rather talking about the things that belong to the exhibition. We haven’t experienced it yet. We haven’t experienced the process, only talked about its potential.