Interviewing

Raşit Altun


What inspires you to create your unique and symbolic art?

I’ve always enjoyed painting, but it wasn’t until the age of 10 or 11, when thanks to my art teacher I discovered the artist within me.

During my university years I began to join art groups, to participate in exhibitions and I started to win prizes in art competitions. After finishing my studies I became an art teacher, and kept developing my art at the same time. In 2010 I joined a very important exhibition in Istanbul that marked the beginning of my professional artistic career.

As an artist, I can’t abstract myself from the matters of the world around me, and feel inspired by such elements as our environment, our geography, the society we live in and culture. I believe that all actions carried out on our planet affect the life of each and every one of us, and have the power to change the destiny of humankind, and therefore the world’s.

Our history is one of chaos, but also of coexistence, cooperation and hope. The French Revolution, for example. It occurred as a desperate response to a deep socio-economic crisis that had the majority of the French population plunged into misery. It impresses me and inspires me hugely how people join forces to fight for a common aim, regardless of what’s involved or the possible consequences.

In your “Purgatory” series, and throughout your other work, we can appreciate two main constants that comprise your paintings; a crowd of people, and a surreal sky of epic proportions, that depending on its colour and shape could transmit different messages. Can you tell us what this symbology represents, and what is the message you seek to transmit through your work?

My work is a symbolic representation of major issues of our era that concern us all; like political and social development, and humanitarian crisis such as the refugee’s. On my paintings I represent today’s people hopes and the common aim that unifies us all, through surrealist elements and scenarios. In my Purgatory series, i.e., crowds of people seek a better hopeful world, represented as colourful clouds. I think I will keep working around this subject for awhile.

Which art currents do you find most inspiring and which artists would you point to as artistic references?

The art currents that inspire me the most are Impressionism and Surrealism. Artists such as Van Gogh, Kathe Kollwitz, Anselm Kİefer, Gareth Rihters and Hakan Gürsoytrak, a contemporary Turkish artist whose work I really enjoy, are among my reference artists.

What would you say is the most satisfying thing about being an artist?

I think artists have different concerns, they look at the world from a different perspective, out of the boundaries, and that makes them different. What I find most satisfying about being an artist is the ability to share my feelings and thoughts through my work.

What are, in your opinion, the biggest difficulties the art world is facing nowadays?

Art is free and idealistic; art is expression, and a way or rebellion against what’s established by the existing power forces. Unfortunately, going against those forces is not always easy. Another of the challenges art faces today in my opinion is social media, that is making the world a smaller place than it was before, where everything has already been invented, therefore it makes it very hard for artists to create something new and unique.

As an arts teacher, what advice would you give to those emerging artists out there who are seeking their space within the contemporary art scene?

I would tell them to never give up creating, despite the artistic crisis they may go through. Never give up your quest for developing your unique style and creating the art you love.

What projects are you immersed in at the moment?

At the moment I am organising an upcoming exhibition at the Danvielle Museum, in the U.S.

What do you expect from your Artzine adventure?

Artzine is for me a channel to expanding my audience, getting in touch with more people and making my art more accessible.

Where could we find Rasit Altun when not teaching or painting?

You can find me reading a book with my son or playing house with my daughter. When I’m not working, I’m with my family. We enjoy spending time together, and every year we make a trip and visit some important museum in the world. This year is the turn of South Korea, to where we will be traveling soon.

More by Raşit Altun

More by Raşit Altun